Eisenberg says standoff was plea to bring issue of mental health to political forefront
DOVER, N.H. -- In a jailhouse interview, the suspect who is accused holding the campaign office of Hillary Clinton hostage claims that he was driven by a higher cause.
Leeland Eisenberg told a reporter from the Associated Press that he was trying to urge presidential candidates, such as Hillary Clinton, to take the issue of mental illness more seriously.
Eisenberg held Clinton’s campaign office in Rochester (New Hampshire) hostage for five-and-a-half hours before he surrendered to police last Friday.
"It’s hard to explain, you have a voice of reason on one side.
And you have this voice on the other side of your head driving you to say ‘yes, this is what you need to do, this is the right thing to do; to sacrifice yourself for others,’” Eisenberg said. “I know it sounds silly, but that’s what drove me, and I finally just broke and went forward with it."
The hostage crisis caused authorities to close businesses and shut down access to the unusually quite street. Dozens of police officers, members of the SWAT team and bomb squad were called in to resolve the situation.
"So I get the idea that I was going to go out and strap this bomb to my chest,” Eisenberg said. “I was going to walk into that office and I was going make the issue of mental health known. I went in. It wasn’t really a bomb it was only flares."
Eisenberg claims that his threat to the five hostages was not real; that he told them that he would not hurt them. He cited the fact that he released one of the hostages when she started having a panic attack and another when she told him that she was pregnant.
"If you do nothing else, please bring mental health and mental illness to the forefront of these campaigns, because I’m not unique," Eisenberg said.
Eisenberg, who has been convicted of rape twice, now faces charges of kidnapping, criminal threatening and fraudulent use of a bomb-like device.
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