Clinton N.H. office still under lockdown

A local teen says the hostage taker had been drinking for 72 hours prior to the incident.

Topics: 2008 Elections, Hillary Rodham Clinton, War Room,

ROCHESTER, N.H. — As of 5 p.m., the downtown here remains in lockdown, hours after a lone man entered the local headquarters of the Hillary Clinton campaign and took several hostages. A maze of police tape and flashing cruiser lights lines the streets, while police remain tight-lipped, saying only that the “hostage” situation is ongoing, the situation remains “fluid,” and the area is “stabilized.” One Rochester police officer could be overheard discussing the need for a search warrant via a cellphone.

The absence of official information has made a star of Chelsea Coull, a 19-year-old employee of the nearby Governor’s Inn. She says that at around 3 p.m. a young man walked into the inn to ask for a cup of coffee. According to Coull, the man, who did not give his name, described himself as the stepson of the person who had taken the hostages in the local headquarters of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The young man told Coull that his stepfather was “in the wrong state of mind” and wanted help.

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“He had been drinking for 72 hours prior to this,” the sober man said of his stepfather, according to Coull. “He had asked where he could purchase roadside flares, and then this morning he said, ‘Watch the news for me.’”

Coull continued, “He said that his stepfather is harmless. All he has is roadside flares on him. And he is in the wrong state of mind. He just wants help.”

Police have confirmed none of this. But they have said to expect another press conference at around 7 p.m., local time.

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

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