Larry Gardner, a/k/a Larry Van Dyke, was convicted of grand larceny in 1964 at the age of 16 – then kidnapping in 1973, then robbery in 1981. At age 34, he was awaiting a very likely life sentence as a persistent felony offender when 2 correction officers took him to Kings County Hospital in the Bronx to have a cast removed from his wrist. It was October 14, 1982.
On the elevator, Gardner grabbed a guard’s .38, shot the guard in the arm, and ran down a basement corridor to a locker room. He took 5 people hostage.
Over the next 46½ hours, Lieutenant Robert Louden – head of the NYPD’s hostage negotiating team – talked constantly with Gardner, who released his first captive in exchange for blankets and pillows. After that, Gardner demanded media attention. The press cooperated, lavishing coverage on the siege. Gardner watched closely: one of the first things he demanded was a television.
Gardner released his last hostage early on October 16. No one was hurt, Gardner included. But the case gave journalists pause about when criminals could dictate media content. Editors cited the precedent of the Croatian hijackers from 1976: the criminals ordered a manifesto appear in America’s 4 major newspapers. All 4 newspapers complied.
The reporter closest to Gardner’s story, Bella English of The Daily News, told the Times she was upset and felt “used.”
English’s Sunday by-line read: “STATE OF SEIGE: MY 47 HOURS – Bella English tells of her role in the Brooklyn hostage crisis.”