Suspect In Clinton Hostage Standoff Held On $500,000 Bond

Monday, December 3rd 2007, 7:41 am
By: News On 6

ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - A judge ordered a mental evaluation Monday for a man accused of taking workers hostage at a Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign office, and his attorney said the man saw visions directing him to "sacrifice himself" to bring awareness to mental health issues. Leeland Eisenberg, 46, was accused of walking into the small office Friday afternoon with what looked like a bomb duct-taped to his chest. After demanding to speak to the Democratic presidential candidate about mental health care, authorities said, he held campaign workers hostage for hours.

Eisenberg, who faces charges including kidnapping, criminal threatening and fraudulent use of a bomb-like device, was ordered held on $500,000 bond.

"I want to make sure that this man doesn't go anywhere until he is dealt with properly," Rochester District Court Judge Daniel Cappiello said.

Eisenberg's defense attorney, Randy Hawkes, said in court that Eisenberg heard voices and saw a "movie in his head" last week telling him he had to "sacrifice himself to bring the issue forward."

He also said that Eisenberg was profoundly sorry for the trauma he caused to the campaign workers and for causing a disruption to the campaign. Hawkes also said Eisenberg, who had made repeated suicide attempts in the past, wanted to thank the police for not shooting him, even though he asked them to during the conflict.

Family members and court documents say Eisenberg drank heavily the night before the standoff, and had told family members he wanted to get help but didn't have health insurance or money.

Hawkes said Eisenberg called Gov. John Lynch's office on Thursday seeking help, but was referred to his local congresswoman's office, where he was told it was a state matter. When Eisenberg contacted the state Department of Health and Human Services, he was told there was nothing the agency could do immediately, Hawkes said.

On Friday morning, Eisenberg asked stepson Ben Warren to check if a store sold road flares, according to a court document written by officials who interviewed Warren. After Warren said no, he heard his stepfather call a taxi and ask to be taken to an auto parts store. Later, he heard the sound of ripping duct tape, the document said.

Authorities said the explosive device Eisenberg claimed to have was actually road flares taped to his chest. As he left the home, Warren said his stepfather told him, "No matter what happens today, tell your mother I love her," according to the document.
Strafford County Attorney Janice Rundles asked the judge for Eisenberg's bond, saying Eisenberg was a risk to the public had a lengthy criminal record dating back to 1978. He was convicted of rape, escaped while serving a 10-year sentence for that crime and then committed rape again, Rundles said.

His wife, Lisa Warren, said previously she learned after they married that Eisenberg had a troubled past that included a lawsuit against the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston alleging a priest sexually abused him. Lisa Warren, who filed for divorce from Eisenberg on Tuesday, was supposed to appear in court with Eisenberg on Friday before the standoff began. In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday, she said that she still loved him.

"When he was on his medication he was always making me laugh, he spoiled me," she said. "It was perfect in my eyes. But without the medication and (with) the use of the alcohol, he turned into a different person."

Eisenberg's wife has said that he saw a televised Clinton campaign ad where a man said the senator helped him when an insurance company refused to pay for his son's medical treatment. Family members have said Eisenberg wanted to get help, but complained that he didn't have health insurance or money to pay for it.