2012-09-21 / World

Pittsburgh SWAT team at hostage call in high-rise

By JOE MANDAK
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A police SWAT team responded Friday to a call about an armed man inside a downtown Pittsburgh office building, prompting an evacuation amid reports of a hostage situation.

The man entered the building sometime after 8 a.m. and went up to an office suite on an upper floor of Three Gateway Center, one of six office buildings that dominate the city skyline, police said.

A woman who works on the 20th floor said she and others were told a man with a gun was on the 16th floor and “nothing else.” The woman, who gave her name only as Gina, said she saw other workers being escorted out by officers after getting off a freight elevator.

Several hundred people milled around about a half-block from the building after police evacuated the 24-story high-rise. A light rail stop nearby was closed and at least 20 emergency vehicles surrounded the building.

A phone message left for the building’s Santa Monica, Calif.- based ownership group was not immediately returned.

Joel Kirchartz, a 28-year-old web developer who works on the 17th floor, said he and his co-workers looked out the windows Friday morning and “a bunch of cops pulled up with all sorts of sirens going; there must have been 20 of them.” He said he went downstairs to find out what was happening and by the time he got outside, police had sealed the building.

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