RIVERSIDE — A disgruntled former Pacific Bell employee, upset about his retirement benefits, took five people hostage early today and shot up the "heart" of the telephone system before surrendering, police said.
More than 15,000 Pacific Bell customers, including the police, fire and sheriff's departments, lost telephone service after Tony Apodaca, 47, of Riverside, armed with a handgun and shotgun, opened fire on Pacific Bell's routing system in the company's regional headquarters building, Lt. Ellis Asper said.
Hostage negotiators persuaded Apodaca to surrender at about 8 a.m., ending an incident that tied up downtown traffic for hours and left parts of the city's telephone service, including portions of the 911 emergency system, inoperative.
The hostages included four telephone company employees and an unarmed security guard, Asper said. Except for one superficial wound, possibly caused by a bullet fragment, the hostages were unharmed.
Apodaca was taken to police headquarters, where he was being interviewed by detectives.
The gunman told negotiators that he was "disgruntled over some portion of the benefits of his retirement system," Asper said. "He demanded to speak to someone of authority at the phone company. I have no knowledge that he intended to harm anybody."