ROCHESTER, N.H. — A distraught man wearing what appeared to be a bomb walked into a Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign office Friday and demanded to speak to the candidate during a hostage drama that dragged on for nearly six hours before he peacefully surrendered.
Shortly after releasing the last of at least four hostages, Leeland Eisenberg walked out of the storefront office, put down a homemade bomb-like package and was immediately surrounded by SWAT team with guns drawn.
The suspect — clad in gray slacks, white dress shirt and a red tie — was put on the ground, handcuffed and taken two blocks to the police office in the back of a tactical response vehicle.
The man walked into the office shortly before 1 p.m. and took several hostages, police and witnesses said. He let a woman with an infant go immediately and at least one other woman got out about two hours later.
Seconds before he surrendered, shortly after 6 p.m., the last hostage walked from the office. The hostage then ran down the street toward the police roadblocks surrounding Clinton’s office.
Police said earlier no one had been injured, and that appeared to still be true at the end.
Witness Lettie Tzizik told television station WMUR of Manchester that she spoke to the woman who was released first and that she was crying, holding the infant.
“She said, ‘You need to call 911. A man has just walked into the Clinton office, opened his coat and showed us a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape,” Tzizik said.
Clinton was in the Washington area at the 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.
The office, in a town of 30,000, is one of many Clinton has around New Hampshire. The campaign said the people taken hostage were volunteers for the campaign.
A law enforcement official confirmed to The Associated Press earlier that the suspect’s name was Leeland Eisenberg, and said Eisenberg was an older man known around the town to be mentally unstable. The official declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
The official said the man walked into the campaign office and opened his jacket, revealing what appeared to be a pipe bomb, and that he demanded to speak with Clinton. Authorities did not know what Eisenberg wanted to talk to Clinton about.
They believe the device strapped to the man’s chest was made with road flares, not a bomb, the official said.
Eisenberg made local headlines in March when he held a news conference on the steps of Rochester City Hall to complain about a police policy of placing fliers in unlocked cars warning motorists to lock their doors.
“This is nothing more than a gimmick to get around the Constitution and go around in the middle of the night upon unsuspecting citizens in their own yard and search their vehicles,” Eisenberg said.
Police, who said they were just trying to reduce theft from motor vehicles, changed the policy in response.