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Courtroom Hostage Standoff Ends Peacefully

December 13, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ Two attorneys held hostage nearly three hours in a judge’s chambers by a man wielding ″a very credible toy gun″ said they calmed their captor by asking him to sing and by looking at photographs of his children.

″This is not the way I had hoped to spend a quiet afternoon,″ said Jeffrey Kripton, one of the two lawyers held until shortly before the man surrendered peacefully Thursday afternoon at the Traffic Court building.

The man discussed family problems and ″kept mentioning that he wanted to see his daughter ’one last time,‴ Kripton said.

Alvin Byndom, 33, freed Kripton after authorities brought Byndom a soft drink he had asked for, said Cook County Sheriff Richard Elrod.

Within 30 minutes, Byndom, who is on parole following a theft conviction, freed the other hostage and surrendered after authorities agreed to allow him to be taken directly from the Traffic Court building to a hospital where his daughter was being treated, Elrod said.

The trouble began when Byndom walked into the Traffic Court chambers of Associate Judge Carl Cipolla and demanded action be taken on a traffic ticket.

Cipolla said he was in his chambers with the attorneys discussing an unrelated matter and told Byndom he could not hear his case immediately.

He told the man to come back in the afternoon, and the man replied, ″I don’t have to do anything″ and reached into his pocket, the judge said.

Cipolla said he ran out a back door of the chambers as the man pulled what appeared to be a gun.

″When I saw him go for his suitcoat, being a city kid, I ran,″ he said. ″He looked like Eddie Murphy doing an imitation of a dude. He was one of those dude-types with a swagger.″

Michael Falls, the second attorney, described the weapon occasionally pointed at him as ″a very credible toy gun, especially when you’re looking down the barrel.

″All he kept saying was he wasn’t going to hurt us as long as he got what he wanted.″

Falls said Byndom fancied himself a singer, and that he and Kripton tried to calm him by requesting songs, reading letters from his daughter and looking at photographs of his children from a plastic bag he had brought.

After his surrender, Byndom was charged with disorderly conduct, but the charge was dropped after a psychiatrist who evaluated him learned he had been under regular psychiatric care, police Sgt. John McAllister said.

Byndom then was taken to Mercy Hospital, where he had been receiving the care, authorities said.

Deputy Police Chief Charles Pepp, who negotiated with Byndom by telephone during the standoff, said medical records obtained by the department showed Byndom had been diagnosed as schizophrenic, a condition in which a person suffers delusions and hallucinations.

McAllister said he was uncertain whether authorities actually allowed Byndom to see his daughter.

Alderwoman Anna Langford, who called into the judge’s chamber during the standoff, said Byndom’s daughter is a high school student and is at Michael Reese Hospital for emotional problems.

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