Casper police safely reunited a hostage with his family Friday after a man with a knife held him for hours in an office building.
No one was injured during the incident, which led to the evacuation of the Aspen Creek office building. Police also blocked off streets in the area. Heavily armed officers were later seen entering the building with rifles.
SWAT team officers escorted a man out of the building around noon, about three hours after the hostage situation began. He was bald, heavy-set and wearing black. Police later identified the suspect as 35-year-old David Chavis.
Police did not release the identity of the 51-year-old victim or say what organization uses the office where the hostage situation took place. He was released safely to his family after being checked by medical personnel.
“This is what you always want to have come out of these things,” Lt. Chris Hadlock said.
A man who called the Star-Tribune identified himself as the brother of the victim. Cole Miller said he was grateful the situation ended the way it did.
“The detectives and all the people that handled this did a very professional job,” he said. “They were really compassionate with all of us, and we appreciate that.”
Miller said he is thankful his brother was unharmed and that the suspect was also not hurt. He said his brother did not want to identify himself.
The incident began about 8:45 a.m. and officers evacuated workers from the office building shortly thereafter. The Natrona County Special Response Team and Hostage Negotiation Team responded and were able to resolve the situation.
Chavis was being held Friday at the Natrona County Detention Center. Investigators are still working to understand Chavis’ motive in the incident. The district attorney’s office will file charges against Chavis.
Tina Thompson, 62, who works for the Farmers Insurance district office, was in the building where the hostage situation took place.
Around 9 a.m., she said, someone with the sheriff’s office came in and told workers in her office to evacuate. Thompson said they were instructed to use the main entrance, not the back entrance.
At around 9:40 a.m., she was at the Ramkota, near the side door.
She said she saw a sheriff’s pickup enter a nearby parking lot and stop. About 10 heavily armed officers, in tactical gear and carrying assault rifles, were in the bed of the truck. They crouched low and moved very quickly into the lobby, she said. She couldn’t tell which floor they were headed to.
One woman who said she worked on the third floor of the Aspen Creek building told a reporter that officers who evacuated the building said there was a hostage situation on the second floor.
About 30 to 40 evacuated office workers arrived at the nearby Ramkota Hotel shortly after 8:30 a.m., said the hotel’s general manager, Renee Penton-Jones.
An evacuee at the hotel who declined to be identified said officers entered his office suddenly and told people to leave.
“They came in guns down, the sheriff, and said, ‘Hey, got to go,’” the man said.
The Aspen Creek building remained closed Friday, but authorities were allowing workers in surrounding buildings to return to their offices.