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Historic Photos that Capture the Boorklyn Hostage Crisis of 1973

January 19, 1973, began like any other winter day in Brooklyn, New York City. Yet, by the end of it, the neighborhood would be thrust into the national limelight, marking a watershed moment in police tactics, crisis negotiation, and the annals of American law enforcement.

The Incident Begins

On that fateful morning, four African American Sunni Muslim men – Shulab Abdur Raheem, Dawd A. Rahman, Yusef Abdallah Almussadig, and Salih Ali Abdullah – walked into the John and Al’s sporting goods store. However, their intentions were far from benign. The group was seeking to arm themselves, a decision influenced by the horrific Hanafi Muslim massacre in Washington, D.C. that had occurred just the day before. Their actions set off a chain of events that would span 47 grueling hours.

A robbery in progress is a situation the NYPD is trained to handle, but this was anything but typical. As officers arrived at the scene, what could have been a swift arrest escalated into a fierce shootout. Within just three hours, one police officer lay dead, two were injured, and one of the perpetrators was wounded.

A Standoff Like No Other

The initial confrontation led the perpetrators to retreat into the store, taking twelve innocent people hostage. For those trapped inside, it was the beginning of a nightmare. For the NYPD, it was uncharted territory.

Hostage situations were not new to law enforcement, but the duration and intensity of this standoff were unprecedented. As the hours ticked by, it became clear that traditional “shock and awe” methods, which relied on overpowering force to subdue criminals, would not suffice. An alternative approach was needed, one that emphasized communication and de-escalation.

Enter Detective Harvey Schlossberg

Harvey Schlossberg wasn’t just any detective; he was also a trained psychologist. His dual expertise uniquely positioned him to handle the intense psychological and tactical challenges the situation presented. Schlossberg, alongside his team, engaged in prolonged dialogues with the hostage-takers, seeking common ground and aiming to ensure the safety of the hostages.

These negotiations were not without their hurdles. The motives of the perpetrators were deeply rooted in religious and racial tensions, further complicating the dialogue. However, Schlossberg understood the power of empathy, patience, and building trust. Instead of resorting to brute force, he opted for understanding and compassion, making him a standout figure in this crisis.

The Turning Tide of Law Enforcement

The extended standoff provided a live, albeit harrowing, lesson to the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies watching closely. Previously held beliefs about resolving standoffs were being dismantled in real-time. Here was a clear demonstration that dialogue, understanding, and patience could be just as effective, if not more so, than sheer force.

This shift wasn’t merely theoretical. The safety of twelve hostages hung in the balance. The NYPD, under the guidance of Schlossberg and his team, managed to ensure the release and rescue of every single hostage. Furthermore, all four perpetrators were arrested without any further bloodshed.

Media’s Role

While the police were dealing with the situation, another critical element came into play – the media. The incident garnered significant media attention, with news outlets covering every twist and turn. This intense spotlight added another layer of complexity.

The media’s presence was a double-edged sword. On one hand, it added pressure on the NYPD to resolve the situation swiftly. On the other, it provided a platform for the hostage-takers to voice their grievances, potentially aiding in negotiation. The NYPD had to carefully manage their relationship with the media, ensuring that information relayed to the public was accurate and did not jeopardize the ongoing negotiations.

#1 Shulad Abdul Raheem Booked for Murder and Robbery in Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#2 David Abdullah Ar-Rahm Booked for Murder and Robbery in Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#3 Salih Ali Abdullah Booked for Murder and Robbery in Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#4 Bullet-Riddled Window Examined by Police After Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#5 Salih Ali Agdulah Booked for Fatal Shooting of Cop in Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#6 Hatch Remains Open Day After Brooklyn Hostage Siege Ended, 1973

#7 Woman and Boy Observe Police Guarding John & Al Sports Store After Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#8 Man Vacuums Shattered Glass Near Scene of Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#9 Hostage Fonnie Buckner Taken to Hospital After Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#10 Shulab Abdulah Raheen Booked in Brooklyn Police Station, 1973

#11 Dawud ar-Raahman and Shulab Abdulah Raheen Booked for Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#12 Salih Ali Abdullah Brought Into Station After Brooklyn Siege Ends, 1973

#13 Police Rescue Hostages from Sporting Goods Shop in Brooklyn, 1973

#19 Armed Robbers Hold Hostages in Williamsburg Sports Shop, 1973

#20 Armed Robbers Hold Hostages in Williamsburg Sports Shop, 1973

#21 Jerry Riccio Picks Up Walkie-Talkie Outside Brooklyn Siege Scene, 1973

#22 Jerry Riccio Holds Walkie-Talkie Outside Brooklyn Siege Scene, 1973

#23 Daily News Headline Covers Brooklyn Hostage Siege, January 20, 1973

#24 Guns Line Wall of Store Where Gunmen Are Holed Up, 1973

#25 Police on Roof During Brooklyn Hostage Siege, 1973

#26 Man From Neighboring Store Convoyed to Safety, 1973

#27 Police Try to Keep Warm During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#28 Pool Players Escape Hall During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#29 Cops Take Cover From Gunfire During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#30 Hostage Reaches Top of Ladder During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#31 Hostage Assisted by Patrolman to Roof During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#32 Hostage Runs Across Roof During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#33 Another Hostage Joins Group on Roof During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#34 Patrolman Assists Hostage on Roof During Brooklyn Siege, 1973

#35 Dodging Bullets During Hostage Siege in Williamsburg, 1973

#36 Armored Police Tank Makes Combat Debut During Hostage Siege at John & Al Sports Store, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

#37 Curious Crowd Waits Under Broadway Elevated Line During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#38 Female Hostage Walks to Ambulance After Release from John & Al Sports Store, Taken to Cumberland Hospital

#39 Female Hostage Walks to Ambulance After Release from John & Al Sports Store, Taken to Cumberland Hospital

#40 Curious Crowd Waits Under Broadway Elevated Line During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#41 Dr. Thomas Matthew Examines Wounded Gunman at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#42 Police Clear Spectators From Area Near John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#43 Police Secure Ladder While Helping Hostages to Safety at John & Al Sports Store

#44 Cops Take Cover Behind Decorative Pillars at a Movie Theater During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#45 Turbaned Man Confers With Others in Storefront During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#46 Curious Crowd Waits Under Broadway Elevated Line During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#47 Hostage Escapes to Adjoining Building Roof During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#48 Hostage Escapes to Adjoining Building Roof During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#49 Police Monitor Broadway While Gunmen Hold Hostages Inside John & Al Sports Store

#50 Escaped Hostages Talk With Police After John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#51 Hostage Jerry Riccio Picks Up Police Walkie-Talkie During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#52 Onlookers Watch From Various Locations During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#53 Cops Leave John & Al Sports Store After Gunmen Surrender

#54 Minister Abdullah of Ya-Sieen Mosque Confers During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#55 Gunman Surrenders, Ending 47-Hour Siege at John & Al Sports Store

#56 Police Assist Woman Down Ladder to Safety During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#57 Hostage Escapes to Adjoining Building Roof During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#58 Hostage Escapes to Adjoining Building Roof During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#59 Hostage Escapes to Adjoining Building Roof During John & Al Sports Store Hostage Siege

#60 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#61 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#62 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#63 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#64 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#65 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#66 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#67 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#68 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#69 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#70 Hostages Rescued at John & Al Sports Store During Hostage Siege

#71 Armored Police Rescue Ambulance Positions Near John & Al Sports Store

#72 Sharpshooters Take Position Down the Street From Hostage Site

#73 Three Suspects Brought Into Station at End of 47-Hour Siege at John & Al Sports Store

#74 Three Suspects Brought Into Station at End of John & Al Sports Store Siege

#75 Dawud ar-Raahman Booked for Shooting Cops and Holding Hostages for 47 Hours at John & Al Sports Store

Written by Dennis Saul

Content creator and Professional photographer who still uses Vintage film roll cameras. Not that I loved London less But that i Love New York City More.

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