Austin, Texas was the scene of a dramatic showdown between a SWAT team and kidnapper inside a medical center.
The showdown occurred yesterday afternoon at a medical center in downtown Austin. SWAT negotiators tried for six hours to resolve the situation, but were faced with a suspect who did not want to lay down his weapons.
The standoff took place outside the Children’s Medical Group building on Austin’s West 35th Street, where a doctor was being held hostage inside.
Police believe that another doctor was the one holding him and other people in the center hostage.
MEDIA – The SWAT situation has ended. Two subjects have been located and were pronounced deceased. The APD homicide unit is on scene and investigating. More information will be provided tomorrow by the PIO office. -PIO6
— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) January 27, 2021
During the negotiations the hostage negotiator tried his best to talk down the suspect inside, telling him that it would be best for everyone if he put his weapons down.
“You don’t deserve to go through this, for all you have done for others,” the negotiator said. “That is why I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives,” the negotiator added.
Further negotiations tried to appeal to the hostage taker to see reason but did not seem to be working.
“Everything that is happening tonight doesn’t take anything away from everything that you have accomplished as a doctor,” the negotiator said, but added “I cannot guarantee your safety unless you comply.”
The hostage negotiator tried to praise the hostage taker’s status as a physician to make him see that this was a very bad way to end things and try to resolve his problems.
“I am letting you know, doctor, there is a way to resolve this. I need your help to fix the situation. That starts with you answering the phone. You’ve spent so much of your life helping the terminally ill, now it’s your turn for us to help you.”
The call came in to authorities in the afternoon that a man had come taken hostages at gunpoint. He reportedly let three of them go right away but kept everyone else in the medical center hostage.
“When I arrived on scene, I saw a woman being escorted by police out of the taped area where she was met and hugged by a child. And that’s what we’ve been seeing over the past few hours: multiple people being walked out and handed off to what we can only assume are loved ones,” reporter Amanda Ruiz noted.
A Tragic Ending
Tragically the standoff did not end well. Residences in the area were evacuated and police moved into direct action. SWAT vehicles pulled away around 11 p.m. after which time police determined to send in robots. Explosions then occurred.
When authorities entered the building there were casualties. Two victims were found dead, but their identities have not yet been released at this time and it is not clear if one of them was the hostage taker or if they were innocent victims.
This incident highlights the brave work police do and shows the difficulty of their job. It also shows how bad things have gotten in this country that a person is taking hostages at a children’s medical center.
The backstory of why the hostage taker was so angry to take this action has not been released, but it’s clear that the country is going through a severe mental health crisis, partly caused by the pandemic.
Calls to suicide hotlines were already up by 1,000% by last May and it’s only gotten worse since then. Even if this tragic and horrific story has nothing to do with mental illness and is some other issue entirely, the mental health crisis gripping the country needs to be addressed and the horrible impact of lockdowns and social isolation on people’s wellbeing needs to be honestly discussed.