Related topics

Television Proved Key In Capturing Gunman With AM-Tonga Hostage Bjt

April 6, 1986

CHICAGO (AP) _ An armed man who held a woman hostage for more than 35 hours led a life filled with television fantasy, and it was television that helped police persuade him to surrender.

Negotiations with John Pasch Jr., 57, had been punctuated by his demands to be left alone during his favorite television shows, especially ″Miami Vice,″ said Sgt. James Biebel, the negotiator who finally talked Pasch into releasing his hostage unharmed and surrendering early Saturday.

Police said the standoff began Thursday after Pasch shot his landlord, who had gone to Pasch’s apartment to discuss unpaid rent, and a police officer who had responded to calls of shots being fired. Both died.

Pasch, an unemployed tool and die maker, then barricaded himself in a 74- year-old neighbor’s apartment, prompting police to surround the North Side building.

Pasch, charged with two counts of murder and held Sunday in Cook County Jail, apparently viewed the TV screen as a stage for his own drama, while police regarded it as both a strategic tool and an unwelcome intruder.

″The idea is to utilize the media,″ police Superintendent Fred Rice told reporters Friday night. ″We have tried to use you all along.″

Rice’s televised guarantee of safety was a turning point in Pasch’s decision to surrender and release his neighbor, Jean Wiwatowski, Deputy Police Chief Richard Rochford said Saturday.

But film of police sharpshooters, tear-gas canisters and weapons on news broadcasts also made Pasch anxious, said Lt. John Kennedy, head of the negotiation team.

Asked if the media attention was good or bad, Kennedy replied, ″It’s always a mixture of both.″

When Pasch demanded that Rice assure him via television that he would not be harmed, Rice complied and local television stations broadcast his statements live. When Pasch said he had missed a broadcast and asked that Rice repeat it, Rice again complied.

Friday night, Pasch became enraged when police cut electricity to Mrs. Wiwatowski’s building minutes before the broadcast of ″The Battle of the Bulge.″

″I got to the point where I’d talk to him during commercials,″ said Biebel, 42, a 19-year police veteran who talked with Pasch for more than 30 hours.

He described the gunman as an expert marksman who ″has been in hibernation for many months,″ ″hates everybody,″ has ″a very short fuse″ and ″had no friends.″

Pasch’s acquaintances described him as a divorced and lonely man who lost his job about six years ago and began living on unemployment checks and part- time work.

Update hourly