Man accused in Three Gateway Center kidnapping charged in inmate assault

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The suspect in last year's Downtown hostage situation beat another inmate and tried to drag him into a cell to attack him with a shank, but failed when other inmates intervened, police said.

Allegheny County police wrote in a criminal complaint that Klein Michael Thaxton, 23, of McKeesport, created an 8-inch shank out of plastic and a 10-foot, 6-inch rope out of cloth sheeting.

On June 26, while he was in a common area shared by protected inmates at the Allegheny County Jail, Mr. Thaxton began beating inmate James Cole, police said.

Mr. Thaxton later told a corrections officer he intended to drag Mr. Cole into his cell and tie the door shut, according to the complaint. He failed because his cell door unintentionally closed during the fight, which three inmates -- including a homicide suspect -- tried to break up.

When corrections officers searched his cell, they found a note addressed "Dear Mom" that said someone had called Mr. Thaxton a name and "This is the person who is going to let me exert all of my negative energy in 'full force,' " police wrote.

When police interviewed Mr. Cole on Wednesday, he had two black eyes, and scratches on his face and ribs. Mr. Cole told police he thought Mr. Thaxton was trying to kill him, according to the complaint.

Mr. Thaxton faces charges of assault by a prisoner, unlawful restraint and possessing weapons or implements for escape.

He was arrested in September after police said he held a man hostage in 3 Gateway Center for six hours. Attorneys who represented Mr. Thaxton have said he has schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, and was not taking his medication on the day of the hostage situation. The attorney representing him in that case declined to comment on the new charges.

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Liz Navratil:, 412-263-1438 and on Twitter: @LizNavratil. First Published July 12, 2013 8:00 PM


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