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Blast from the past! Tony Kiritsis dead

Discussion in 'Indiana Glockers' started by -, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. Guest

    I remember that!

    Tony Kiritsis, 72, found dead of natural causes
    In '77, he wired a shotgun around the neck of a mortgage company official, paraded him through Downtown, kept him hostage for days.

    By Rob Schneider
    January 29, 2005

    Anthony G. "Tony" Kiritsis, who made national headlines when he wired a sawed-off shotgun around the neck of an Indianapolis mortgage company executive in 1977 and paraded him through Downtown streets, was found dead in his home Friday.

    Kiritsis, 72, virtually held the city at bay for more than two days before ending the 63-hour hostage ordeal at his apartment. Found not guilty by reason of insanity, Kiritsis spent 11 years in mental wards until his release in January 1988.

    On Friday, he was found dead at his Speedway home in the 1500 block of Mickley Avenue by an acquaintance, who notified police. The Marion County coroner's office said Kiritsis died of natural causes.

    Efforts to contact family members Friday were unsuccessful. It is unclear what Kiritsis had been doing since his release from custody.

    The events of Feb. 8, 1977, elevated Kiritsis to an instantly recognizable household name as he talked repeatedly on the air with veteran radio newsman Fred Heckman of WIBC-AM (1070). Kiritsis also insisted on live television coverage of him reading a statement -- all while his shotgun was still wired around the neck of Richard O. Hall, with whom Kiritsis was angry about a business deal.

    The incident would forever change the way broadcast journalists cover such incidents and would lead to what some called "The Kiritsis Law" after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. His acquittal prompted Indiana legislators to amend the law to provide for verdicts of "guilty but mentally ill" and "not responsible by reason of insanity."

    Kiritsis confronted Hall in his office at 129 E. Market St., angry about a possible foreclosure on land Kiritsis had hoped to develop. Kiritsis, who described himself as having been angry all his life, attached Hall to a wire noose bolted to the end of his shotgun and put his finger into a metal ring that was wired to the trigger.

    He led Hall through Downtown Indianapolis, surrounded by police and horrified office workers, until he reached Washington Street and Senate Avenue. There, he commandeered a police squad car and drove to his apartment at Crestwood Village. Kiritsis contended the apartment was wired with explosives.

    After negotiating with authorities, he left his apartment with Hall still wired to the shotgun, walked into the lobby of the complex and demanded that television cameras be turned on. In a profanity-laced proclamation, Kiritsis called himself a national hero.

    The incident proved to be a "watershed" story for television, said Mike Ahern, who retired in December as the longtime news anchor at WISH (Channel 8).

    Back then, local stations had just acquired the capability of going live with "mini-cams," Ahern explained. "We honestly didn't know what we were doing then; those cameras were so new."

    Ahern, who had been out to the apartment complex, was back at the station when the hostage ordeal ended. He remembers looking up at a television screen and watching as the face of John Wayne (on an awards show) was replaced by the ranting and raving face of Kiritsis.

    Tom Cochrun, news director at WISH, was a news reporter for WIBC at the time and remembered wondering how Kiritsis' tirade would end.

    "Tony's moods would vacillate from anger, rage and frustration, where he was screaming and yelling to where he was crying, and then he would laugh," Cochrun said.

    The station's telephone lines were flooded with calls by people angry about Kiritsis' foul language being aired, but Ahern was more worried about viewers seeing an execution in their living rooms.

    "We didn't know what to do. Our hands were tied at that point because Kiritsis had demanded live coverage. If we pulled the plug, who knows what would have happened?" Ahern said.

    But the larger question is whether the station should have been plugged in to begin with, Ahern said. "Should we have gone out there 'willy-nilly' with our cameras running because we had these new toys in our arsenal?"

    In retrospect, Ahern said, the answer is no.

    "If that thing taught us anything, it's caution and perspective and responsibility," he said. "It taught us a lot about how vulnerable we can be in a situation like that."
  2. kahrcarrier

    kahrcarrier FAHRENHEIT

    Jan 8, 2004
    Southern IN
    I remember that!

    But I had forgotten the incident until reading this post.
    A whole lot of crazy stuff has been on the tube since 1977, loads of others getting their crazy few minutes of fame........

  3. JByer323

    JByer323 Is it dead?

    Jan 11, 2005
    Bloomington, IN
    1070 Has aired abunch of coverage about that today. Can't say I'm not glad I wasn't born yet.
  4. Earthworm Jim

    Earthworm Jim Direct Path

    Apr 26, 2004
    Chateau Ghetto
    Boy I remember the live TV coverage of that,everyone kept waiting for him to blow the guys head off on live TV.;g
  5. ericXD9


    Jul 28, 2004
    I remember that very well, I was 12 at the time. A lot of people were pissed at the verdict, but there was a pile of evidence that supported the insanity defense.
  6. Does anyone know what shotgun Tony had?
  7. Rikki

    Rikki Pathetic Loser

    Apr 10, 2002
    Behind the curtain
    I don't know the kind of shotgun- but for some reason I'm thinkin' that he DID fire it- after it was off the neck of the guy, and before Tony gave himself up...said something like "I wanted to see if the damned thing worked.."
    Richard Jones, a now elderly gentleman and ISP trooper(ret.) was there for the whole ordeal..and there "was" a plan to get the situation resolved, but he never shared it with any of us. You can see him
    start showing up in the film coverage more and more as the situation
    wore on always closer to the two of them... Fred Heckman! Man was that guy cool under fire! What a neat old guy! Fred never had 1 minute of "crisis intervention training,and what a wonderful job he did!
  8. Guest

    His shotgun was a semi-auto, probably a Browning. He fired the one shot, and the gun jammed (due to the shortened barrel).

    I got this info from Keith Jones - he's the one who handcuffed Kiritsis after he surrendered ;P
  9. epsylum

    epsylum Boolit Hoze

    Sep 4, 2004
    Racing Capital, USA
    I remeber seeing something about it on tv about a year ago. I wan't born yet and my parents lived in St. Louis at the time, so it was news to me. If I rember right the hostage got tired and yanked his head away from the gun and he fired. The shot BARELY missed the hostage. Then I believe the gun jammed and had to give up.
  10. KSFreeman

    KSFreeman Broken Member

    Jul 10, 2001
    Lafayette, Indiana
    An article appears in this month's Indianapolis Monthly on this matter.

    (I am uncertain why a mag put out by the Chamber of Commerce would draw attention to this incident)????
  11. epsylum

    epsylum Boolit Hoze

    Sep 4, 2004
    Racing Capital, USA
    I remember posting in this thread, but is this thread really from Jan '05??? Wow, I didn't think it was THAT long ago.
  12. I went over with a friend that does hvac work to Tonys house about 4 years ago.

    I didnt know who he was untill we left...lets just say hes was still alittle off in the melon.:alien:
  13. Geeorge

    Geeorge Sarcasm Inc.

    I can still see the television coverage like it was yesterday in my head;)
  14. R. Emmelman

    R. Emmelman Tired Member

    I was downtown a block away from where it started. Saw all the PD cars etc.
  15. seamus


    Nov 25, 2005
    A good friend of mine was a civilian employee with IPD at the time and on her lunch break outside when Kiritsis and Mr. Hall went strolling by right in front of her! She said it was an unforgettable moment of her life.
  16. 4sarge

    4sarge Millennium Member

    I was young then but old now ;) Say what you want about Tony but, he was cheated out of his life savings between Hall (mortgage broker) & Marsh Grocery, basically found NG but ended up serving time because he failed to comply with his mental evaluations. Tony was indeed a hot head and not in the right but he also was a victim. Public sentiment was with Tony at the time. I personally didn't know him but my brother in law lived next to him for several years (just behind the Speedway Mall) after his release and said that you could not have asked for a better neighbor. If you had just been swindled out of your life savings this may have not been your reaction but it was his. This is in no way a justification of his actions on that day but sometimes you just gotta root for the little guy especially if he's wielding a shotgun on National TV :shocked:
  17. nastytrigger

    nastytrigger Mediocre Member

    Apr 10, 2005