Federal agents say 31-year-old Zachariah Kade McGuire, who also goes by Zachariah Kade Cook, wanted to take a US Department of Veterans Affairs doctor hostage in a plot that mirrored the famous 1977 standoff involving kidnapper Tony Kiritsis. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
Federal agents say a troubled ex-soldier brought a loaded pistol and zip ties to a VA clinic to take a doctor hostage in a plot that mirrored one of the most famous standoffs in American history.
He’s being prosecuted under two names in a case that harkens back to a 62-hour standoff in Indianapolis, Indiana, that ended on Feb. 11, 1977, when a shotgun-wielding Anthony “Tony” Kiritsis released his hostage, Richard O. Hall, without injury, and later successfully escaped conviction by pleading insanity.
The ordeal transfixed the nation. Federal agents claim it also inspired a similar plot that was foiled by federal and municipal police in Oklahoma.
To Oklahoma authorities, he’s Zachariah Kade Cook. The 31-year-old man usually lives with his mother but is now incarcerated on a $1 million bond in the Tulsa County Jail on two state counts of threatening people with violence.
In federal court, however, he’s called Zachariah Kade McGuire because he legally changed his name seven years ago, after he exited the Army.
Anthony Kiritsis holds a wired shotgun to the neck of his hostage, Richard O. Hall, near the end of the 62-hour ordeal, Feb. 11, 1977, in Indianapolis. Hall was released without injury and Kiritsis was taken into custody. Hall is a mortgage company executive in Indiana. AP photo by John C. Hillery.
A detention hearing to set his bond on a sole count of possessing a firearm at a VA outpatient clinic is slated for Jan. 5 before US Magistrate Judge Christine D. Little in Tulsa. McGuire’s attorney didn’t return Coffee or Die Magazine's messages seeking comment.
The federal case against McGuire began on Nov. 14, when officials say he rang the Muskogee VA Medical Center and left a message on an appointment scheduler’s phone: “You will make an appointment today or I am coming up there and killing people.”
“You will make me an appointment today, or I will murder you,” it allegedly continued. “You have 30 minutes to do so, or I will be coming up there and start to murder people.”
Around 12:30 p.m. that day, McGuire showed up at the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa, and VA Police officers quickly went to meet him. Prosecutors say the cops asked if he was armed and McGuire said he was. The officers confiscated a loaded Rossi .357-caliber revolver, plus multiple zip ties, two of which were looped around his right forearm, according to court records.
The officers arrested him on an Oklahoma state charge of threatening violence, and he was booked into the Tulsa County Jail. But he bonded out on a $500 surety bond the next day, according to bail paperwork provided to Coffee or Die.
Oklahoma and federal authorities say a 31-year-old US Army veteran known by two names, Zachariah Kade Cook and Zachariah Kade McGuire, brought a revolver and zip ties on Nov. 14, 2022, to the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa. US Department of Veterans Affairs photo.
On Nov. 15, VA Police dispatchers received a call from the Tulsa Police Department warning that a record store clerk told them that a released McGuire threatened to return to VA with a firearm if he didn’t get help.
Tulsa Police officers nabbed McGuire on Nov. 16 and charged him with a second state count of threatening someone with violence, and his bail was raised to $500,000 for each incident.
A pair of VA Office of Inspector General special agents interrogated him in the Tulsa lockup. They say he recognized his voice in a recording of his message to the Muskogee VA scheduler, but he didn’t remember making the call.
According to McGuire’s criminal complaint, he insisted he never intended to hurt anyone, but wanted VA officials to understand that he needed help, and that he was “not the first one to do something this drastic to the VA, to that specific VA.”
“I didn’t really have a plan,” he continued. “I just kind of threw stuff together and was going to make it up as I went along.”
Gunman Anthony Kiritsis, with a shotgun wired to hostage Richard O. Hall, at a news conference in Indianapolis, Feb. 11, 1977. AP photo.
IG Special Agent Taylor Marsh asked McGuire about the zip ties, and the suspect allegedly fired back, “Are you familiar with the gentleman named ‘Tony Kiritsis?’”
“He was the first one that was actually brought up on an insanity charge and he was the only one to date that has gotten away with it,” McGuire allegedly added.
The agents claim McGuire appeared to liken himself to the famous kidnapper, who had fallen behind on his mortgage payments to broker Dick Hall, the man he took hostage by wiring a sawed-off shotgun to his head.
Kiritsis told the Indianapolis cops it was a dead man’s line, and if they shot him or Hall escaped, it would automatically go off.
Gunman Anthony Kiritsis gestures to newsmen in Indianapolis, Feb. 11, 1977. Kiritsis said that he had a shotgun in hostage Richard Hall's ear for three days but "for four years they had one of these stuck in my ear." Kiritsis was referring to a mortgage held by Hall's company. AP photo.
Kiritsis was finally lured out of his apartment by authorities promising him $5 million and no arrest. After a speech delivered to a wall of TV cameras, Kiritsis blasted the shotgun into the air, proving it was loaded.
His insanity defense kept him out of prison, but Kiritsis spent 11 years in a mental institution before he was released. He died in 2005 at the age of 72.
The agents asked McGuire if he thought it was okay to shoot someone, and he allegedly responded, “Normally, no. But if you’re in fear for your life you have a right to bear arms. I’ve been in fear for my life for a while now.”
According to the agents, McGuire’s mom told them he confessed to bringing the revolver to the VA to “take his doctor hostage.”
Court records indicate McGuire had been arrested in 2012 by the US Army for wrongful possession of spice, a synthetic cannabis.
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Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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