Remembering the West End Christian Hostage Situation of 1988

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

On February 2nd, 1988, Tuscaloosa emerged on the national news over a chilling hostage situation at West End Christian School that ultimately took twelve hours to safely negotiate. Thankfully, this event did not end up as a tragedy, due to the efforts of Ken Swindle, our chief investigator here at Prince, Glover and Hayes. Mr. Swindle was the hostage negotiator for the police department, and during negotiating, the captor requested that if Governor Hunt pardoned him, he would relinquish his weapons and free the hostages. A hand-delivered VHS of Governor Hunt promising such an arrangement shortly followed the suspect repudiating his weapons to law enforcement. Not even a second after the suspect crosses the school’s front door threshold, Mr. Swindle and other officers apprehended the suspect safely and finally ended the tense, twelve-hour standoff. Twenty-nine years later, we remember and appreciate one of the landmark events of Mr. Swindle’s life and career in law enforcement.

If you would like to witness video of the West End Christian School hostage crisis, please click here to see a YouTube video. If you would like to read more, please click here to see the February 2nd, 1988 article from the New York Times; alternatively, the Tuscaloosa News honored the 25th anniversary of this event with this article.


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