Hillary Clinton Thanks Volunteers and Police After Hostage Taker's Arrest

Police arrest suspected hostage taker at Hillary Clinton's campaign office.

ByABC News
November 30, 2007, 2:50 PM

Nov. 30, 2007 — -- Sen. Hillary Clinton said Friday night she was grateful and relieved that a five-hour hostage standoff that took place at one of her campaign offices in New Hampshire ended peacefully with the safe release of five volunteers and the arrest of a mentally unstable man.

Police in Rochester, N.H., arrested a local man with a history of mental illness who had entered the Main Street storefront office around 12:45 p.m. with what appeared to be a bomb strapped to his chest, and took five people hostage, including one infant.

Late Friday night in New Hampshire, Clinton held a press conference with the officers involved in resolving the standoff successfully arrayed behind her. She thanked the officers for their efforts and also met with campaign staffers from the Rochester office.

The hostage taker, identified by local law enforcement officials as Leeland Eisenberg, 47, of Somersworth, N.H., claimed he wanted to contact the presidential candidate to complain about his mental-health treatment.

Rochester police Chief David DuBois said Eisenberg was being held on state charges of kidnapping and reckless conduct, and that federal charges were being considered.

Clinton was in the Washington area the whole time, but the confrontation brought her campaign to a standstill just five weeks before the New Hampshire primary, one of the first tests of the presidential campaign season.

She canceled all appearances, as did her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and the security around her was increased as a precaution.

"I am very grateful that this difficult day has ended so well. All of my campaign staff and volunteers are safe. I want to thank them for their extraordinary courage and coolness under some very difficult pressures and dangerous situations," Clinton said, adding, "I also want to thank all of law enforcement. We were in touch from the moment this began with local, county, state, federal law enforcement. I am so grateful to them for their response which brought this hostage situation to such a good ending."

Over the course of the standoff, in which local and state police surrounded the office, called in SWAT teams and posted snipers on nearby rooftops, the five hostages were slowly released.

"This is a hostage situation," said Paul Callaghan, a spokesman for the Rochester Police, in the midst of the standoff. He said 54 officers were on the scene and that state bomb squad officials had cordoned off a five-square-block area. No one was injured in the incident.

Local police and witnesses confirmed that a woman who first alerted police was released with her baby around 1 p.m., soon after the man, described as being in his 40s with salt-and-pepper colored hair, entered the building.

Around 3:20 p.m. two more female hostages were released. The fifth hostage, a man, was released as Eisenberg was arrested.