In the wee hours of the morning on October 11, 1972 William Claiborne was doing what most other Washingtonians were doing: sleeping. When the phone rang at 4:15 am, he answered groggily. A panicked voice on the other end of the line said that inmates at the D.C. Jail were holding guards hostage and had requested his presence.
A few minutes later, Corrections Director Kenneth L. Hardy called with a personal plea. “Mr. Claiborne, they have taken Cellblock 1 and they are holding nine of my men as hostages. They want to talk to you. Can you come down here?”