What Not To Do In a Hostage Situation
Over the weekend a guy went crazy and shot up a shopping mall in Tacoma, Wash. Part of his shooting spree included taking several people hostage in a Sam Goody store.
While being held the phone rang and one hostage, a store employee, decided to answer. Who was on the other end the police, a family member checking in on a loved one? Nope, just the Associated Press.
While the suspect was in the music store, employee Joe Hudson was able to pick up the phone call from The Associated Press and say he and others had been taken hostage. He said little more but could be heard telling others that he was talking to the AP.
I can't decide who was more foolish, Joe or the AP. That both did something stupid goes without saying.
Why in the world is an Associated Press reporter calling the store? To get a fresh quote? I'm a reporter. I've had to call people in tough situations, after a loved one is killed for example. But common sense leads one to wait until a situation is over before you start harassing someone for a quote.
What if the gunman decided to kill Joe because he was chatting on the phone. He could have thought Joe was calling the police. And he was a person who had already shot six people so he probably would not have given to much thought of plugging good old Joe if he felt threatened.
The AP would then have been responsible for someone's death.
What if a police hostage negotiator was trying to get through and Joe was busy chatting with a reporter?
Next, what was Joe thinking, that the caller might be a customer checking to see if a new CD was in stock. Unless the gunman told him to pick up the phone there was no reason not to let it ring.
Luckily, the situation ended with the gunman surrendering to police, but Joe and the AP are damn lucky something worse did not happen.