Hostage Crisis at Hillary Clinton's Campaign Office Rocks N.H.
Drunken Suspect Nabbed after 5-Hour Ordeal in Rochester, N.H.

By Dave Wedge, O’Ryan Johnson and Michele McPhee
Boston Herald
December 1, 2007

ROCHESTER, N.H. - Fresh off a two-day drunken bender, Leeland Eisenberg strapped highway flares to his waist with duct tape and took hostages at Hillary Clinton's office here, demanding to speak to the senator in a five-hour standoff that drew national TV coverage.

Leeland Eisenberg is taken into custody by a SWAT team last night after he allegedly held hostages inside the Rochester, N.H., campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton.
Photo by Craig Osborne
Eisenberg, 47, of Somersworth surrendered into the arms of heavily armed SWAT police after an ordeal that began at 1 p.m. Five hostages including an infant were released unharmed.

Eisenberg's frantic stepson, who begged police to let him "go tackle" his disturbed dad, told police early on that his stepfather was coming off a 48-hour drinking binge.

Eisenberg wanted to speak to Clinton and even called CNN during the hostage standoff to vent his anger over the lack of proper mental health care. He finally surrendered to a SWAT team at about 6:15 p.m.

A Herald reporter watched as Eisenberg, dressed in a white shirt, gray jacket and red tie, calmly walked into the middle of the street - duct tape visible on his midsection - and held his arms up, slowly took off his jacket and turned around for police.

He was ordered to the ground when police cuffed him and whisked him away in a police truck to be arrested.

Several law enforcement sources told the Herald that a Leeland Eisenberg was released from a Massachusetts prison two years ago, but there was no immediate confirmation that it was the hostage-taker.

Terrill Walker, spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety, confirmed that a Leeland Eisenberg was released from MCI-Concord on March 16, 2005, but would not say what the sentence was for citing criminal offender record laws. He served his full sentence, Walker said.

But two Department of Correction sources, including a prison guard who worked at the prison where that Eisenberg was a convict, said that he had been released on a rape charge years ago and kept coming back for petty crimes.

"He did a major bid, then he became a low-level zero in and out of the system," one guard said.

That Eisenberg also was jailed under the name Ralph Woodward, according to DOC records.

While in prison in Bridgewater, he filed a suit in September 2002 against the Archdiocese of Boston alleging he was molested in his early 20s by the Rev. Richard M. Buntel of St. Catherine's Church in Westford. Buntel was removed from the ministry and underwent treatment for drug, alcohol and sexual abuse in 1994, only to be reinstated by Cardinal Bernard Law at a Wilmington parish in 1999.

Eisenberg reportedly told his stepson yesterday to watch the news. He also was scheduled to appear in a New Hampshire court yesterday to answer to a domestic violence complaint filed by his wife, who is seeking a divorce, the Foster's Daily Democrat reported.

A waitress at a restaurant near the Clinton presidential campaign office said Eisenberg's stepson came in for a cup of coffee while trying to come to grips with his father's stunt.

"He said to police, 'Can't I just go in and tackle my dad? He's harmless,' " said Chelsea Coull, a waitress at the Governor's Inn.

The owner of the restaurant, Anthony Ejarque, said he also listened as the young man in his 20s said his dad had "been drinking for 48 hours and had road flares strapped to him."

Rochester, a former mill city with about 32,000 residents, is on the Maine border, about 80 miles north of Boston.

Speaking at the Sheraton Hotel in Portsmouth, N.H.,late last night, Clinton said she felt "bewilderment, outrage, and confusion" upon learning that some of her campaign workers had been taken hostage.

"These were my staff members and volunteers. It was, for me and my campaign, an especially tense and difficult day," Clinton said. "We're immensely relieved that this has ended peacefully.

"Eisenberg was someone that was not known to my campaign until he walked in the door today. I believe he was seeking help and came to my office because he thought he might get some sort of relief," the senator said.


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