Klein Michael Thaxton sparked a mass police response after entering the 16th floor office of a benefits administration firm at around 8am on Friday. Thaxton updated his Facebook, which was open to the public, during the saga, complaining that he had "lost everything".
He finally released his unharmed hostage, identified by police as 58-year-old Charles Breitsman, just after 2pm, and surrendered to police.
Three Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh was evacuated as Thaxton detained Breitsman, the owner of CW Breitsman Associates. The firm runs employee-benefits programs, but police said it wasn't immediately clear why he was targeted.
"[Thaxton] is a sick young man and we do need to take measures to see he is taken care of as well," said police spokeswoman Diane Richard. "We don't know if he's related to this company. We don't know what the tie-in is he has with this individual."
She said Breitman was able to meet with his family afterward. "He is doing OK at this point, a little shaken up," Richard said, adding he was taken to police headquarters so that he could talk about the incident.
A worker on the 16th floor told the Associated Press that the hostage-taking unfolded inside CW Breitsman Associates' offices. Kathi Dvorak, an administrative assistant at AXA Advisors, said a woman ran into her office yelling for someone to call 911.
Police surrounded the building and hundreds of workers were evacuated as Thaxton posted updates to his Facebook wall, which was quickly picked up and spread across other social networking sites.
At around 9am he wrote: "i cant take it no more im done bro," later adding: "how this ends is up to yall bro real shyt". Thaxton's profile is no longer available on the site, a message instead stating the page "was not found".
Later Thaxton said: "this life im livn rite now i dnt want anymore ive lost everything and i aint gettn it back instead of walkn around all broke n shyt while niggas stunt on me n shyt".
In another entry he appeared to address his father, saying "welln pops youll never have to woryy about me again".
People had begun to post messages to Thaxton's profile urging him to release his hostage before the page was taken offline at around 1pm. Pittsburgh police said they had asked Facebook to remove the profile – Pittsburgh chief Nate Harper told Associated Press that the social media use had the potential to both help and harm negotiations. It was helpful that Thaxton could see ''that people are concerned about his well-being,'' Harper said, but he added that "it was a distraction for negotiating".
Police described Thaxton as having a military background, while he also has a criminal record that includes a guilty plea to robbery earlier this year and a minimum six-month jail sentence.
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