Man pleads guilty to WCB hostage taking

Patrick Clayton had packed his rifle, more than 100 rounds of ammunition and an angry journal detailing his battle with the Workers’ Compensation Board, when he walked into the agency’s main Edmonton branch and took nine people hostage.

EDMONTON — Patrick Clayton had packed his rifle, more than 100 rounds of ammunition and an angry journal detailing his battle with the Workers’ Compensation Board, when he walked into the agency’s main Edmonton branch and took nine people hostage.

“Make yourself comfortable because we are going to be here for awhile,” Clayton said before unpacking tie straps, twine, a knife and a CD of music he had burned so there wouldn’t be any awkward silences.

At times sobbing and sympathetic, and at other moments flinging around his gun and spewing profanity, Clayton slowly released his captives one by one and surrendered peacefully to police 10 hours later on Oct. 21, 2009.

Details of that day were released in court Monday after Clayton pleaded guilty to three charges: hostage taking, pointing a firearm and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He originally faced 18 offences but several counts were amalgamated.

Crown prosecutor Lisa Tchir said she’s glad the victims will be spared having to relive the frightening ordeal by testifying at trial and she plans to ask for a “significant” prison term.

Clayton, 40, faces a maximum life sentence for hostage taking and a maximum 14 years each on the other charges. He is to be sentenced following a four-day hearing next week, when he is expected to testify and get some of the attention he was seeking two years ago.

Court documents show Clayton injured his knee at his concrete job in 2003, then became angry at the doctor who treated him and the WCB worker who “barely gave him enough money to live.”

He also admitted to using crack cocaine and abusing prescription drugs and was upset about being estranged from his ex-wife and separated from his young son.

A grainy surveillance video admitted into evidence shows Clayton arrived at the WCB building about 8:30 a.m. He took his rifle out of its case and proudly marched through the front doors.

He pointed his gun at the only security officer in the lobby area. Moments later, when Clayton was distracted by other people in the building, the officer used a swipe card to get through a set of secure glass doors. Clayton chased after him and fired his gun. The bullet hit a wall, and the officer ran out the back door of the building.

Smirking and smoking a cigarette, Clayton herded nine others to an eighth-floor conference room. He struck one man in the chest with the muzzle of his rifle but didn’t hurt the others.

Most of the hostages believed they were going to die.

The documents say Clayton promised the hostages he wouldn’t hurt them. He initially demanded they tie themselves up but didn’t seem to care that some of their loose knots had come undone.

And when he allowed others to go to the bathroom on their own, he didn’t mind when they didn’t return. They had been ushered out of the building by tactical officers.

The last remaining hostage, Randy Morrow, was the only person in the group who wasn’t a WCB employee. Morrow injured his shoulder in a work accident and had a medical appointment in the building that day.

Morrow left, but a few minutes later Clayton came out of the room and was arrested by police.