Saturday, October 13, 2018

Hostage in Trader Joe’s Standoff Describes Helping Suspect Negotiate His Surrender

I highly recommend reading the full article, watching the above video and listening to the podcast below. Some might think by reading the headline that this is the case of Stockholm Syndrome. It is clearly not. (Read more on Stockholm Syndrome here).

It is something that I would describe more as a term I coined "Sydney Syndrome"- where the hostage works towards building rapport with the hostage-taker in order to increase their own survival chances. The hostage is not aligning with the hostage-taker from an affiliative perspective but rather one that realizes their fates are interconnected and it is therefore strategic to act in such a manner.

"Sydney Syndrome" is not a formal diagnosis (nor is Stockholm Syndrome), it is merely a term designed to help us further understand the actions of the hostage(s) during an incident. This is important as their actions (or inactions) can greatly impact the negotiation process. (if you are interested in reading paper, send me an email).

Here's a snippet from a hostage's account from an incident many of us are familiar with:

Standing near the registers at Trader Joe’s, MaryLinda Moss threw herself to the ground when she heard the sound of gunshots.

She called her 14-year-old daughter, who was waiting inside their car in the parking lot. “I said ‘There’s a shooter, hide in the bottom of the car,’ and then I hung up.”

It would be another three hours before Moss left the store.

The 55-year-old artist and art consultant would come to play a crucial role in helping Gene Atkins, 28, negotiate with police as dozens were held hostage inside the Silver Lake grocery store on July 21.

In an interview with KTLA’s Frank Buckley, Moss described those first few moments of chaos and a gradual, measured set of negotiations that took place over multiple phone calls with police in the hours after. 

Here's a description of the exchange between Mary Linda Moss and the hostage-taker:

She said, ‘There’s a woman who’s been shot, and he said, ‘That’s not my fault, that was the police,'” she said. “And I was like, ‘OK, but she’s gonna need help.'”

He told her, “‘You’re pushing’ or ‘you’re going too fast,'” she recalled.

He would repeat those phrases several times, later, as she helped him negotiate with police.

And here's one more:

“He’s saying, you know, ‘It’s all over. I shot at a cop. I’m in for life,'” she said. “And, I said, ‘There’s always hope.'”
Read more [HERE]. 

Listen to the podcast interview below: