Hostage crisis inside Clinton campaign office ends peacefully

  • Updated: December 1, 2007 - 8:42 PM

A Police officer stands guard Friday Nov. 30, 2007 in downtown Rochester, N.H.after a man took hostages at Hillary Clinton's campaign office. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Photo: Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press

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ROCHESTER, N.H. - A distraught man wearing what appeared to be a bomb walked into Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign office here Friday and demanded to speak to the candidate about access to mental health care. The hostage drama dragged on for nearly six hours until he peacefully surrendered.

Shortly after releasing the last of at least five hostages unharmed, the suspect, Leeland Eisenberg, walked out of the office, put down his alleged bomb (it turned out to be road flares) and was arrested.

Eisenberg, 47, is a gadfly well known to local police for his erratic behavior. On Friday, he was scheduled to be in court for a domestic violence hearing. On Tuesday, his wife filed for divorce, citing a troubled history.

The confrontation brought Clinton's campaign to a standstill just five weeks before the New Hampshire primary, one of the first tests of the presidential campaign. She and former President Bill Clinton canceled all appearances. "Everything stopped, and it had to because we had nothing on our minds except the safety of these young people who work for me," she said afterward.

The drama began shortly before 1 p.m. The man took at least five hostages, but let a woman with an infant go immediately.

After he surrendered, CNN reported that a woman inside the campaign office had called the network and put Eisenberg on the phone. He told CNN he had mental problems and couldn't get any help.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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  • ROCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 30: Swat team members stand outside a Hillary Clinton campaign office November 30, 2007 in Rochester, New Hampshire. A man believed to be Leeland Eisenberg claims to have a bomb strapped to his chest and is holding hostages inside the Clinton campaign office demanding to speak to the presidential hopeful. Eisenberg was taken in to custody by authorities without incident. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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