`There was no way out'
Psychiatrist looks at gunman's mind `It was an act of desperation'

Aug. 26, 2004.


One was terrified for her life.


The other was agitated and uncertain.


The third knew lives hung in the balance based on his split-second decision.


This is how a forensic psychiatrist described the dynamics likely playing out in the heads of the three key players in yesterday's hostage taking outside Union Station.


"To the woman who was taken hostage, for her it would obviously be a total surprise. Suddenly her whole world would have come crashing down around her," Dr. Graham Glancy said.


When gunman Sugston Anthony (Tony) Brookes grabbed hostage Nicole Regis on a busy downtown street, "she assumes she's likely going to die," said Glancy, a forensic psychiatrist and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.


While no one can know for certain what motivates a hostage taker, this time it appeared to be spontaneous, Glancy said.


"It was an act of desperation which arose out of a series of circumstances...


"His mindset is likely, `It's somebody else or me and if I'm going to go, then someone else is going to go with me.'"


Then again, Glancy said, Brookes may not have even been clear-headed enough to formulate an end to the drama he unleashed. "He was out in the open. He put himself in a difficult situation. There was no way out," Glancy said.


"If he's not talking, they have no idea what is going on in his head. Is he scared? Is he angry? All police know is he's agitated and he's got a hostage."


Professor Cheryl Regehr, director for the Centre for Applied Social Research at U of T, has studied the aftermath of trauma on both victims and emergency response professionals. She said police officers who kill someone often suffer greatly psychologically in the aftermath of the event. "Everybody is great at second-guessing."