Blind Hostage-taker released from psychiatric hospital
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A former Fairfield University student who held 26 students and their professor hostage with a fake bomb for hours in 2002 has won his release from a Connecticut mental hospital.
Bridgeport Superior Court Judge George Thim determined Friday that Patrick Arbelo, 31, no longer poses a danger to himself or others and can be released. Arbelo, who smiled as he heard the decision in court Friday, will live with his father in an undisclosed location.
State prosecutors opposed his release, but state mental health professionals and the state Psychiatric Security Review Board determined Arbelo is no longer dangerous.
Arbelo, who was a Fairfield University student from Bridgeport, was found not guilty of kidnapping charges by reason of insanity after the incident on Feb. 12, 2002. None of the hostages were injured in the incident, which ended peacefully.
Police said Arbelo walked into a class on Voices of Medieval Women and announced to the class and professor that he had a bomb in his knapsack. He threatened to detonate it if anyone approached him, and he also pulled out a knife, police said.
Over the course of seven hours, Arbelo gradually released the students and eventually surrendered to police without incident.
Arbelo wanted a written statement and a list of five books read over the radio in New York City. The statement aired his views against Jews and blacks.
Arbelo, who was legally blind at the time of the incident, is now completely blind.
Christine Naungayan, a psychiatrist hired to evaluate Arbelo, said Friday in court that while technically Arbelo still suffers a mental illness, he has progressed well.
He will have to remain on medication for the rest of his life, Naungayan said.