Will Dickey  /  AP
Judge Sharon Tanner, left, stands by at the Jacksonville Police command van parked outside Riverplace Tower Wednesday afternoon with Sheriff John Rutherford, at right on cell phone, and other officers during the hostage situation.
updated 8/4/2004 7:14:34 PM ET 2004-08-04T23:14:34

A judge pretended to resign on live television Wednesday to end a standoff in which a man armed with a gun held an attorney hostage, authorities said.

Duval County Judge Sharon Tanner, who authorities said had handled a case involving the gunman, gave the bogus resignation on camera as local stations were covering the hostage incident live.

The attorney was freed unharmed and the gunman, who had demanded the judge's resignation, surrendered shortly afterward, Sheriff John Rutherford said. The names of the gunman and lawyer, and the lawyer's relationship to the suspect, were not immediately released.

The incident began when Mayor John Peyton received a call at City Hall shortly before noon. The man said he was holding an attorney hostage at Riverplace Tower, a 28-story downtown office building, and had a bomb. Sheriff's officials later said the man did not have a bomb in his possession.

While talking with the man, Peyton was able to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, and officers evacuated the high-rise. Peyton was able to keep the man on the telephone for about 45 minutes while police converged on the building.

One of the man's demands was that Tanner resign on live television. Peyton said the man was not pleased with the outcome of a case he had before the judge. It was unclear what the case involved.

Tanner walked up to a local TV reporter near the high-rise, saying on camera that she was resigning immediately, without giving any explanation. Authorities didn't explain the meaning of her televised comments until after the incident ended. Tanner's office confirmed the ruse but said the judge had no further comment.

Riverplace Tower, which is owned by Gate Petroleum Co., has a variety of legal and professional offices. Peyton's family owns Gate.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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