Investigators would like to know why Thaxton wanted to create a public spectacle, Harper said, ‘‘but we will leave that to the mental professionals to figure that out and get the man some help.’’
Thaxton was charged with kidnapping, terroristic threats and aggravated assault and may be charged with escape once police identify the halfway house where he was living after a recent carjacking conviction, Harper said.
Thaxton saw Breitsman’s name on an office door and asked for him by name but didn’t know Breitsman or have any connection to him, Harper said.
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Breitsman was able to meet with his family after Thaxton surrendered a little before 2 p.m.
‘‘He is doing OK at this point, a little shaken up,’’ Richard said.
Facebook did not comment on the Pittsburgh hostage-taking but referred reporters to a page describing how it works with law enforcement. The page says Facebook may share information with law enforcement if deemed necessary to ‘‘prevent imminent bodily harm’’ to someone.
The social network’s nearly 1 billion users come from all walks of life, including criminals. Some of them boast about their exploits on Facebook, often making it easier for law enforcement to track them down.
Last year, a Utah man named Jason Valdez posted updates on his Facebook page during a 16-hour standoff with police. According to reports at the time, some of his friends and relatives urged him to ‘‘be careful’’ while at least one tipped him off to the location of a SWAT officer.
In another Utah case last year, a woman used Facebook to seek help after she and her 17-month-old son were held hostage at a residence for nearly five days. According to police, the woman hid in a closet with a laptop to post her plea for help, saying she and her son would be ‘‘dead by morning’’ if they were not rescued.
Associated Press writers Kevin Begos in Pittsburgh and Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report. AP Technology writer Barbara Ortutay and AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed from New York.