INDIANAPOLIS — Tony Kiritsis entered the office of a mortgage company in downtown Indianapolis and eventually emerged from the building with a hostage at gunpoint.
Kiritsis, upset after falling behind on a mortgage, wired a sawed-off shotgun to the head of mortgage broker Richard (Dick) Hall on Feb 8, 1977. Kiritsis then led Hall around Indianapolis triggering a standoff that would last 63 hours, much of it broadcast live on WRTV.
Channel 6 was the first station in Indiana with the ability to transmit live video with its Insta-Cam, and it was also the first time a situation like this unfolded on live television.
The decision to stay on the air was made by WRTV managing editor Ray Bredemann.
“We took a terrible risk in putting that video on the air,” Bredemann said. “We were all caught up in the excitement, interest and frenzy of this particular story because it had grabbed national headlines.”
Dick Baldwin, the station’s first full-time photographer, witnessed that frenzy firsthand.
“Tony Kiritsis almost fell on top of him and I cannot imagine how that gun did not go off,” Baldwin said.
Kiritsis commandeered a police car and headed home with his prisoner.
Detective Sergeant Ron Beasley was in charge of negotiating with Kiritsis at his west side apartment.
“He would be listening to the television or the radio,” Beasley said. “From time-to-time, a report would come out that seemed to spark him or set him off.”
Kiritsis was taken into custody after he removed the wiring from the gun to shoot out a window, to prove it was loaded. Hall was uninjured.
Hall discussed the ordeal in 2017.
Beasley told WRTV reporter Tracey Horth that Kiritsis got what he wanted.
“He felt justified in his own mind and in his heart for what he was doing and he was trying to bring it to the attention of the world,” Beasley said.
Kiritsis stood trial and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He died in 2005.