Queens, NY: 1974. Thirty original press photographs (measuring ca. 23.5x18cm. to 28x18cm. or the inverse), some with snipe in image or mounted to verso; occasional color pencil annotations to versos, one piece of snipe separated, else a Very Good collection, images all quite sharp. Item #1567
Substantial archive of press photographs covering a thirty-hour hostage situation that took place at the South Jamaica Houses in Queens, New York. Floyd Steele, recently on parole from the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, was the tenant of Fred and Peggy Dalton Kinsler, living in their apartment with Peggy's five-year-old daughter Avril. Steele had already been convicted twice for manslaughter charges, including the 1963 fire arm death of his girl friend. Late on the evening of June 10th, 1974, Steele allegedly made an unwanted advance at Peggy, threatening the family with a loaded gun when she rebuffed him. Peggy managed to lock herself in a bedroom and used a sheet to climb out of the third story window to alert the police. According to Cecil Mackey, a member of the Housing Authority Police and one of the lead negotiators during the following thirty-three hour stand off, an early attempt to break open the door to the apartment found Steele pointing the gun at young Avril's head, threatening to shoot if they did not shut the door. Mackey and the newly-formed hostage negotiation team developed by Simon Eisdorfer in the wake of the deadly attack on the 1972 Olympics, employed the latter's negotiation techniques which, according to a 2005 obituary article, "deemphasized confrontation, focusing instead on saving lives. Studying earlier cases, [Eisdorfer] realized that negotiators could subtly turn a siege into a waiting game that played out in their favor. Police officers could change shifts, but the suspects could not, and eventually became tired and hungry enough to surrender." Mackey and fellow officer Lt. Francis Bolz followed these protocols, addressing Steele as "Mister," chatting about gardenias, and slowly managing to gain Steele's trust enough to open the door long enough to provide him and Avril with breakfast and hot coffee. It was by proffering Avril a glass of Kool-Aid that Bolz managed to pull her out of the apartment door and place his body (equipped with bullet proof vest) between her and Steele. Steele surrendered immediately, though it was discovered that his gun was still loaded and Fred Kinsler had been killed by two bullets to the neck and chest. From start to finish the situation lasted thirty-three hours and was later described by Police Commissioner Michael Codd as "an ideal marriage of the community and the professional policeman in action" ("New York Daily News," June 13, 1974).
The present collection of photographs, attributed to Ted Cunningham, Dan Neville, and Paul Hosefros, were splashed across newspapers across the country. Half of the photographs in the collection depict members of the police force as the situation unfolded, including snipers situated on the ground and on a nearby rooftop. A number of images of the small window into the apartment also feature heavily, including one in which one can just see the small hand of Avril Kinsler shutting the window upon Steele's instructions. Approximately half of the photographs document the immediate aftermath of Steele's arrest, including four close-up shots of him being led by members of the police force; two show Avril being carried away by an unknown policewoman; and three photographs show Peggy Kinsler in a state of shock being wheeled out of the apartment in a gurney after discovering that her husband had been murdered. A substantial and important documentation on the history of police tactics on both the local and the national level.