Hostage released unharmed as man ends 6 1/2 -hour standoff

October 15, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

ELKTON -- A 26-year-old Pennsylvania man ended a 6 1/2 -hour standoff with state police at 3:30 p.m. yesterday, surrendering to tactical officers five minutes after he released a 40-year-old woman hostage.

The suspect, Michael Todd Birkl, of Altoona, said he was a "white supremacist" and that taking a hostage was the only way he had fTC "to get his message out," said Michael McKelvin, a state police spokesman.

The hostage, Kaye Stout of Elkton, is a receptionist for a doctor in the Clayton Professional Building at 118 North St., Mr. McKelvin said. She was described as shaken but unharmed.

Police arrested Mr. Birkl, who apparently has lived in Cecil County for less than a year, and held him for questioning in the Clayton building.

Mr. McKelvin said Mr. Birkl would be taken to an undisclosed hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

"Medical help was one of the things he asked our negotiators for," Mr. McKelvin said.

The incident began at 8:56 a.m. when two women ran into the Elkton police station, a half block from the Clayton building, saying that a man wearing military camouflage and armed with a pistol had taken a woman hostage in the elevator.

"Apparently, Mr. Birkl recognized Mrs. Stout on the elevator, told everyone else to get off and took her to the second-floor office," Mr. McKelvin said.

The Clayton building and several nearby businesses were evacuated.

Before state police were able to establish telephone contact with Mr. Birkl, he called a television reporter in Baltimore and "told her the end of the world is coming and that everyone seemed to be against 'his people,' " Mr. McKelvin said.

A woman who identified herself only as Karen, 33, said Mr. Birkl was a regular customer at her parent's pizza shop in Elkton.

"He was nice, but strange," she said. "Michael told me [Thursday] night that he wouldn't be coming over to my house to watch football Sunday because he was going on a long trip," she said. "He said he had to pay his doctor a visit first."

The woman said Mr. Birkl had told her he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

She said he had Nazi tattoos and believed he once was a skinhead because he had the word "Skin" tattooed on his neck.

She described him as angry at society and the world and upset about his health.

She said the man's anger was directed mainly at blacks, "something from his childhood, but he never said exactly what.

"Michael had some kind of cancer," she said. "He just found out about it and couldn't deal with it."

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