Two people have died following a six-hour hostage situation at a children’s doctor’s office in downtown Austin, police say.
The bodies were found inside Children’s Medical Group late Tuesday, hours after a suspect reportedly entered the facility with a gun and took an unknown number of people captive.
The suspect has not been identified, however, the individual is believed to be a doctor based on police officers’ negotiations with the hostage-taker via bullhorn.
Negotiators were head begging the suspect to answer the phone, shouting: ‘You don’t deserve to go through this, for all you have done for others, that is why I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives…
‘I am letting you know, doctor, there is a way to resolve this. I need your help to fix the situation.’
Police were seen entering a building as they respond to hostage situation at doctor’s office in Austin, Texas, where, authorities said two people were found dead
A man and a woman embrace as Austin police officers and members of SWAT work the scene late Tuesday
The incident took place at Children’s Medical Group in downtown Austin. The suspect is believed to be a doctor based on police officers’ negotiations heard at the scene however, witnesses reportedly said the doctor was not employed at the facility
Austin police eventually sent in a robot, which located a victim before a SWAT team decided to go inside.
The SWAT team found two people dead inside, one who ‘was originally inside the building and one that was not,’ police said.
They did not confirm whether the suspected gunman was one of the deceased.
Officers had been called to the scene around 4.30pm local time after receiving a call of a ‘disturbance at a building,’ according to KVUE.
Initial reports had said that the hostage taker had entered the medical center and taken a number of people captive, but that they were able to escape.
A witness who works at the neighboring dental practice told the local broadcaster how she and her colleagues had locked the windows and doors.
‘A whole group of people from next door had gotten free. I guess they escaped out the back door is what they said,’ the woman said.
She said that they unlocked the doors so that the staff from the paediatric center could take refuge.
‘And I just opened the door and I was like, “Come here, come here, come here.” So, they came in and they were panicked, obviously, crying like, so upset. And so the three front desk girls had a gun like, waved in their face and they were told to lock the doors,’ the witness said.
The situation then devolved into a standoff between police officers and a hostage taker lasting until 11pm, during which time authorities repeatedly pleaded for the suspect to surrender.
Witnesses said the everyone inside the office had been taken hostage but three people were immediately released by the suspect.
The parent of a patient also told Fox News that their doctor was among those being held captive in the building.
‘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 tweeted.
Ruiz said another witness had claimed the suspect did not work in the office.
It’s unclear what led to the deaths or who was inside the building, though a negotiator speaking into a loudspeaker said, ‘ … I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives.’
‘I cannot guarantee your safety unless you comply. 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,’ the negotiator said, KVUE-TV reporter Tony Plohetski tweeted.
Authorities were heard telling the suspect: ‘Everything that is happening tonight doesn’t take anything away from everything that you have accomplished as a doctor.’
In an update shared at 9.30pm local time, authorities said they had not been able to make contact with the suspect for two hours.
About two hours later, police released a statement confirming a SWAT team had entered the building to find two people dead.
‘Two subjects have been located and were pronounced deceased. The APD homicide unit is on scene and investigating,’ police said in a statement on Twitter.
More information will be released by police tomorrow.