• Gateway hostage suspect's mom: I thought they were going to kill my son


    PITTSBURGH - Ronda Thaxton, the mother of Klein Michael Thaxton, told Channel 11 News Thursday that she’s thankful he made it out of the Gateway Center hostage situation alive.

    “That’s a heck of a thing to be down there and know that your child is up there,” Thaxton said.

    Police said the situation started just after 8 a.m. Friday when Thaxton, 22, of Altoona, walked into C.W. Breitsman Associates on the 16th floor of Building 3 holding something that looked like a walkie-talkie.

    A person inside of the building told Channel 11 News that it looked like Thaxton was armed with a gun and at least two duffel bags with unknown contents.

    Just before 11 a.m., Thaxton’s mother was brought into Gateway Center 3 to possibly help with negotiations.

    Ronda Thaxton told Channel 11’s Renee Kaminski about how she felt when she first heard her 22-year-old son had taken a hostage at knifepoint, triggering a standoff.

    “I guess because of all the policemen and all of the guns, I thought they were going to kill my son. So after a while, I just prayed and asked God to help my son come out of the building alive,” Thaxton said. “When I first got there, I was feeling my son’s pain, and then I started getting angry. I was feeling many different emotions.”

    “I told him I love him,” Ronda Thaxton said after talking to her son on a phone. “I told him we could fix this. We can get him the help that he needs.”

    She said it was hard to tell if she was getting through to him.

    She last saw her son a couple of weeks ago. He came to her house, washed clothes and spent the night.

    “He knew he could always come to my house. Being a mother, I felt in my heart that something was wrong, that he was going through some issue, but I don’t know what.”

    “I don’t want him to hurt the hostage,” she said. “I don’t want him to hurt himself.”

    According to Thaxton, her son is mentally ill and hasn’t been the same since he left the military.

    “The negotiator gave me a recorder, and I recorded something to my son telling him that I loved him and to surrender to get the situation done,” Thaxton said.

    Her son eventually did surrender after more than five hours and released the hostage.

    He faces a preliminary hearing Oct. 17 after a hearing scheduled for Wednesday was postponed.

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