The Intruder Who Took a Television Station Off the Air

In 1987, consumer reporter David Horowitz was in the middle of a live broadcast on KNBC-TV in Los Angeles when a man pointed what appeared to be a handgun at him and demanded that he read a rambling statement on the air about the CIA and space aliens. Thousands of viewers witnessed the drama as the man — later identified as 34-year-old Gary Stollman of Tallahassee, Fla. — walked up behind Horowitz and handed him the statement. Horowitz remained calm and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a man here who wants me to read a statement.” Underneath it all, Horowitz was anything but calm. With a gun in his back, he wondered if he would make it through the broadcast alive. Meanwhile, KNBC News Director Tom Capra ordered the program taken off the air. What viewers saw was the NBC logo and a message asking viewers to stand by because of technical difficulties. It turned out that Stollman had been able to bypass security at the station by exploiting his father’s former position with KNBC. Max Stollman had been a pharmaceutical reporter at the station. When Horowitz had read the last line of the statement, Stollman said, “Thank you, David. I couldn’t have harmed anyone with this unloaded BB gun.” He put the pistol down on the table, and police swarmed in to make the arrest. Stollman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of false imprisonment and was given three yeas probation.