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A man who authorities said was unhappy with the outcome of a domestic violence case took an attorney hostage and threatened to set off a bomb unless the judge in the case resigned. His demands were met — or so it was made to seem. John M. Knight surrendered shortly after the judge pretended to resign on live television Wednesday, said John Bowen, chief of homeland security for the Jacksonville, Fla. Sheriff’s Office. The attorney, Christopher Hazelip, was freed unharmed. Authorities said Duval County, Fla. Judge Sharon Tanner had found Knight guilty of domestic abuse in 1999, sentencing him to one day in jail and fining him $216. Before the standoff, Knight had given television stations a video in which he detailed his gripes against Tanner. “I had a woman judge who discriminated against me,” he said in the tape. During the hostage-taking, Tanner walked up to a TV reporter covering the story, saying on camera that she was resigning immediately. Authorities didn’t explain the meaning of her comment until after the incident ended. Tanner’s office confirmed the ruse but said the judge had no further comment. Knight, a 36-year-old copy machine salesman now living in Fort Wayne, Ind., told police he knew the judge’s resignation would not be accepted, but felt it was the best way to show that he was unhappy with her handling of his case. “He knew she was not really going to resign,” Bowen said. Hazelip said Thursday that Knight came into his law firm in the 28-story Riverplace Tower, saying he was from the U.S. Justice Department. Hazelip, who had never seen Knight before, took him to his office and asked what was going on. Knight then revealed a 9 mm handgun and a switch, which he falsely said was connected to a bomb, Hazelip told NBC’s “Today” show. Hazelip said Knight demanded that they call Mayor John Peyton, a friend of Hazelip’s. While Peyton talked with the man, mayoral staffers called the sheriff’s office, and officers evacuated the high rise. Peyton kept the man on the telephone for about 45 minutes, while police converged on the building. During his conversation with the mayor, the gunman demanded Tanner resign on live television within 90 minutes “or he would detonate his bomb,” Bowen said. Knight was charged late Wednesday with kidnapping, aggravated assault, carrying a concealed firearm, making a bomb hoax and false imprisonment. He was denied bond and was assigned an attorney Thursday morning. Peyton told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that Hazelip asked him during the standoff to call Hazelip’s wife and children to tell them he loved them in case Knight killed him. Making that call, the mayor said, was “one of the hardest things” he’d ever done. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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