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Hostage taker complained of lack of access to mental health care

  • Story Highlights
  • Hillary Clinton staffer called CNN, said man wanted to talk to news network
  • Man said he couldn't afford mental health care, wanted to talk to Clinton
  • Caller made no threats, spoke of no hostages, made no demands of CNN
  • Hours after calling CNN in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia, he surrendered
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- When the call came in to the assignment desk at CNN's Washington bureau, the news about a possible hostage situation at a Hillary Clinton campaign office in New Hampshire was just beginning to spread.


State officials identified the hostage taker as Lee Eisenberg.

It was just after 1:30 p.m. On the line was a woman, clearly very upset. She said she was at the Rochester, New Hampshire, campaign office of the former first lady, and a man there was demanding to speak with CNN.

Asked what was going on, the woman, who identified herself as "Morgan," repeated that the man there wanted to speak with CNN.

And then he did. "I need help," he said, agitation obvious in his voice. "I tried to get help," he said.

He said he'd been to a local psychiatric hospital but was told he'd have to pay "thousands of dollars" -- money he said he didn't have. The call ended.

He made no threats, spoke of no hostages and made no demands of the network.

A few minutes later, Morgan was on the line again, this time sounding more calm. The CNN staffer on the line asked if she was under duress, but she didn't answer. The staffer asked her to cough if she was under duress. Again no answer. Is he armed? No answer. Can you cough if he is?

"Do you want to talk to him?" Morgan said. And again, the man with the working-class New England accent was on the line.

"This is Lee Eisenberg," he said, adding that he was speaking from New Hampshire.

Eisenberg said he was a mental health patient who had been trying to get help. He'd been unsuccessful, he said, because he didn't have the "thousands of dollars" he was told he'd need.

He tried several mental health facilities, he said, "even called the Department of Health and Human Services." But no one could help him, he said.

Eisenberg was well-spoken, articulate and impassioned about his cause. But as the call continued, he became more agitated.

"I need to speak to Hillary Clinton," he said. "Something's got to change. Ordinary people need help" with their insurance.

Later, he asked, "Can you get me Hillary Clinton?" And finally, he said again he wanted to speak with Clinton.

"I don't want to talk to CNN anymore," he said before hanging up the phone. Police said that no one from the Clinton campaign was involved in the negotiations.

Two hours later, Morgan was back on the phone to CNN, this time calling the network's world headquarters in Atlanta. But after the main operator transferred her call to the CNN newsroom, it was Eisenberg on the line.

"Hey, this is Lee," he said, once more repeating the story about his attempts to get mental health care.

This time, Eisenberg's tale was sprinkled with profanities. He was angry about being turned away from a mental health facility because he didn't have the money. He'd been dealing with this "crap" for a long time.

"I called the governor to try to get help," he said, but no help came.


He told a CNN staffer he was at the "Hillary Clinton headquarters in Rochester, N.H." The staffer asked questions about his situation, but Eisenberg sighed, then apparently set the phone down. In a few minutes, the line was disconnected.

Hours later, Eisenberg surrendered and the incident was over. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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