Man accused of taking hostages called manipulative

He took six hostages at Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Rochester, N.H. office.

.ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) – The man accused of taking hostages at a campaign office of Hillary Rodham Clinton watched impassively during his video arraignment Monday as he was portrayed alternately as a sick man desperately seeking psychiatric help and a manipulative longtime criminal.

The judge ordered Leeland Eisenberg held on $500,000 cash bail on six felony charges and ordered a psychiatric evaluation for him.

“I think it’s very, very important to keep this man under lock and key for now until we get to the bottom of his mental health problems,” Rochester District Judge Daniel Capiello said.

Prosecutor Janice Rundles asked for the high bail, saying Eisenberg, 46, has a long criminal record, including two rape convictions, and would be a threat to the public.

She said he was sentenced to 10 years for rape in Worcester, Mass., in 1985 but apparently escaped the next year and committed another rape. He was sentenced to 11 to 20 years for that, she said.

Massachusetts officials have said Eisenberg was released from prison in March 2005 but have declined to give other details.

Eisenberg is accused of taking six hostages, including an infant and mother, at Clinton’s storefront office in Rochester on Friday, showing them what he said was a bomb strapped to his chest. Authorities said it turned out to be road flares.

No one was hurt in the 5 1/2-hour drama, which ended when state police negotiators persuaded him to surrender.

Public defender Randy Hawkes portrayed Eisenberg as a man at the end of his rope emotionally after being repeatedly turned down when he sought help.

Eisenberg “heard voices and saw a movie in his head telling him he had to sacrifice himself” to shine light on the flaws in the health care system, Hawkes said.

“He asked me to extend his profound apologies,” Hawkes said.

Rundles, however, said Eisenberg did not mention his mental illness or ask for help in previous complaints her office prosecuted. His mental illness, “as far as I can tell, has been phantom until now,” she said.