Despite fear he was setting a "dangerous precedent," President Carter kept his promise today and telephoned Cory Moore, the ex-Marine who surrendered earlier and released a police captain he was holding hostage.
The White House issued a terse announcement without elaboration that "the President spoke briefly with Cory Moore at 4:13 p.m. EST." The President made the call even while the gunmen were holding hostages at three locations in Washington.
"He wished me luck," Moore told reporters after the President talked to him by telephone.
Moore gave no other details. And officials in Ohio would only give the time Carter telephoned Moore.
Moore surrendered early today afte holding a white police captain hostage for 44 hours in what he called an effort to bring justice to his "black brothers."
He later was arraigned in Bedford Municipal Court on two charges of kidnaping and pleaded innocent to both counts. The maximum sentence on such charges is 25 years in prison and a $1,000 fine for each conviction.
As Moore emerged to surrender from a room in the police station in this Cleveland suburb with his hostage, Capt. Leo Keglovic, 48, he said he wanted to ask Carter about "why he did not speak out on poverty and why he did not apologize to black Americans for the injustices we have faced all these years."
Carter said in his televised news conference this morning, which Moore watched on television, he would speak to the gunman if he released the captain.
"The request was made to me to talk to Mr. Moore," Carter said. "I replied that I would be glad to talk to Mr. Moore after the officer is released. Perhaps it is a dangerous precedent but I have weighed the decision."
Warrensville Heights police Lt. William Lepkowski said that Moore's demand to speak to Carter was "not taken seriously at first," by police.
There was "definite resistance" to the proposal, he said, especially from the Secret Service which, along with the FBI, offered its assistance to the local police shortly after Moore took his hostage and made his demands Monday.
Charles R. McKinnon, FBI agent in charge of the Cleveland office, said that the discussion of the ramifications of the call and the technical procedures involved installing the direct line from the police station to the White House was handled by the Secret Service.
Lepkowski called the decision, approved by the White House, "a community effort." The discussions leading up to it covered "two-and-a-half days, almost every minute of that time," he said.
Moore took the police officer and Shelly Kiggans, 18, a part-time clerk, hostage about 2 p.m. Monday but released Kiggans 11 hours later in exchange for a television set so he could watch media coverage of his demands.
Police chief Craig Merchant said Moore unloaded his two pistols and gave them to Keglovic before he left the room.
In a rambling news conference after he surrendered, Moore, whose original demands had ranged from all whites "to get off the earth" to burning all their money, said, "white folks don't understand black America's needs.
"There is a need for black America to come out of poverty and the hunger that exists all over the world," said Moore.
Moore said the television show "Roots" gave "white America a chance to see why I've taken the role I've taken."
"Freedom as I understand it is not man-given, it is God-given," said Moore. "I felt my conscience is godly and this gave me courage to take on the whole world and that's why this happened."