UPDATED: Hostage Standoff Hoaxer Apprehended at Beggars Pizza

A five-hour hostage standoff Thursday night was exposed as a hoax when police discovered the man thought to be in the home was really sitting at a bar talking on a cell phone.

For further details, please read a followup on Oak Forest Patch.

Updated 11:18 p.m.

Oak Forest police have arrested Mark Fitch outside of Beggars Pizza. After being transported to the police department, he was taken to a hospital, where he will receive a mental evaluation. More details as they emerge.

Updated: 10:30 p.m.

After five hours of what was purported to be a hostage situation, police blasted 5544 Babette Court with tear gas and stormed in, but the man believed to have barricaded himself inside, Mark Fitch, was not at home. He was in a bar stringing police along on his cell phone.

"This was an elaborate hoax," said Mayor Hank Kuspa.

The first call came at 4 p.m. this afternoon, when a friend reported that Mark Fitch was intoxicated and threatening bodily harm to himself.

"The cost of this little hoax, from this gentleman, was tens of thousands of dollars," Kuspa said. "It's unconscionable to me how someone could think this was funny in this economy."

After clearing the home, police went after Fitch.

About a dozen neighbors were evacuated from their homes in the early evening as police from throughout the south suburbs descended on the neighborhood. Units from Hazel Crest, Homewood, Tinley Park, Chicago Heights and nearby areas responded. Emergency vehicles lined Central Avenue on both sides.

South Suburban Emergency Response Team members set up outside the home.

Kuspa told Patch that he was alerted to a "potential hostage situation" and came to the scene. People weren't allowed into their homes for five hours as police talked to Fitch, 44, believing he was holed up inside. The neighborhood episode did not end until shortly after 10 p.m. when police moved in.

There was concern that explosives could be inside the home. Fitch is known in the neighborhood for shooting off fireworks, according to neighbors.

Oak Forest police, some armed with rifles, about 4 p.m. cordoned off an area from 159th Street to 163rd Street and from Central Avenue to Long Avenue and evacuated local residents in the vicinity of Lagoon Park.

The man's mother and brother reportedly were called to the scene, and were being held at Standard Bank nearby.

The area is across the street from the George W. Dunne Golf Course.

Resident Raymond Sauerbier, of 5537 Babette Court, lives on the same cul-de-sac as the home in question, and was unable to reach his home because of the barricade.

Residents were being let into their homes late Thursday night.

Tinley Park police assisted by answering calls in the western half of Oak Forest. Homewood also was called in. An officer earlier was sent to 163rd and Long to disperse about 40 kids playing lacrosse in a local park.

Dave April 22, 2011 at 01:52 PM
GPS can be turned off on your cell phone at the cellphone end if you don't want that tracking. How can you tell nobody is home? If you don't want to be seen inside of your own house, you can hide very easily because you know your own house the best.
Leslie Lynnton Fuller April 22, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Watching FoxChicago last night and they were quoting Oak Forest Patch... way to go Bob & Lauren!
George Slefo (Editor) April 22, 2011 at 02:48 PM
Such an awesome story. Love the featured pic too =P
David B April 22, 2011 at 03:28 PM
LMFAO!!!! Look at it from this perspective! The guys obviously not playing with a full deck. So,,, write it off as a live training session!
Lauren Williamson (Editor) April 22, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Really fantastic reporting job, Lauren! Way to go!
Robin Randall April 22, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Looking forward to any updates on the situation today, if there are any.
Scanner April 22, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Irony. The hostage negotiator should have been suspicious when a request for pizza wasn't made! Jay leno can do the punch line here....
Rob K April 22, 2011 at 04:29 PM
+1. Funny!
Chap April 22, 2011 at 04:48 PM
Another armchair quarterback, talking smack. What would be your solution?
mari mena April 22, 2011 at 04:49 PM
hello|| He was on phone with police for hours while getting drunk. Did he know what was going on? Duh...Losing
mari mena April 22, 2011 at 04:51 PM
and where can we send you the bill for this "training session"?
Lauren Traut (Editor) April 22, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Hello, folks. Please be patient as we update this story with more information throughout the day today. It's important to note that we just spoke with Deputy Police Chief David DeMarco, who stated that although Mayor Kuspa called it a hoax, police are unsure if there is enough evidence to support that phrase. We will be working on this throughout the day, and we'll update you as soon as more information becomes available. Thank you for reading. Lauren Traut, Oak Forest Patch Editor
frank April 22, 2011 at 04:54 PM
There must be a lot of sore shoulders today. Everyone slapping each other about such a swell job done in Oak Forrest. On Channel 9 they show the Mayor and police spokesman telling us that they are going to get their huge sum of wasted money back. They are fools for prolonging this fiasco. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>?>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
Brenda Sullivan April 22, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Nice job Lauren!
Special K April 22, 2011 at 05:31 PM
I agree.... Hilarious!! Police Academy episode 1
Robin Randall April 22, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Please note the very important difference between hearsay and opinion, and thoughtful journalism that brings out the actual facts of the case. In this day of internet opinion run rampant, real journalism needs to come back in a big way. Thanks Lauren for doing a great job in our community.
Lauren Traut (Editor) April 22, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Brenda, I cannot thank you and Jim enough, for allowing me to work from your living room. You enabled my reporting and ability to update readers as frequently and as thoroughly as possible. I appreciate it greatly.
Lauren Traut (Editor) April 22, 2011 at 07:51 PM
It's my pleasure, Robin. Glad to help.
Dennis Robaugh (Editor) April 22, 2011 at 09:08 PM
Joesomebody: We removed your comment with the link to the foreclosure. This is not Mr. Fitch's residence.
Unknown April 22, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Look, the Oak Forest police had to respond to a call for a man with a gun, they have protocalls for this type of situation and acted accordingly. The events that folowed were brought on by a jerk neighbor that made the police believe there may have been explosives in the house. I am a close freind of Mark and never knew him to have a gun in the first place. Who called the police and reported him having a gun?? That moron is really the one responsible for the whole fiasco. Also, I personally attempted to reach Mark on his phone, he wasn't answering. The whole story is being blown up by a bunch of idiots who don't know what they are talking about, and getting their information from the media that used any bit of information to make up a story. These idiots saw Mark's motorcycle and started to report he was a Hells Angel. Blame the media, they turned this into what it was.
Baba Wawa April 23, 2011 at 12:10 AM
It was never clear exactly what this neighbor was alleged to have seen. Did Fitch brandish some gun at this neighbor? He threaten him/her with it? And then did he tunnel his way out of the house and over to Beggars Pizza? And some other female neighbor mentions it to the police as an aside "Oh by the way, he likes fireworks on the 4th of July." Really? I do, too! Major case of a jerk neighbor (or someone) crying wolf.
frank April 23, 2011 at 12:24 AM
Good comment KOPPEL
Wally April 23, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Is is true that this was a false police report and now this person will be getting a lawyer to sue the city and Mayor Kuspa? Seems like the Mayor and the Deputy Chief are really not on the same page right now. Can you update us on the new status?
frank April 23, 2011 at 08:59 PM
Friends from California think they live in a pretty civilized city after reading about this Oak Forrest fiasco. Da mayor and da Chief have had their say. Can't wait to see their press conference when they collect the tens of thousands of dollars they feel they have coming from their over zealous police reaction. Yes, we know the next few words, "It's better to have erred..."
Spike April 24, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Does anyone know where this guy grew up?
Concerned April 24, 2011 at 10:26 PM
What makes the difference where he grew up? I'm a personal friend of Mark as well - you're not getting the whole story - so let's stop the speculation. The media has made him out to be some "strange" person - I can assure you he's not.
Sarah April 25, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Well I can say first hand that the media definately blew this out of proportion. I am the neighbor who supposively said I had "problems with Mark"... I NEVER said that! I met him ONCE since moving there and the one time I DID meet him, he offered to do our electric! The article the Southtown wrote was all false!
Chap April 25, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Were you there? Have you ever had to deal with that type of situation? It's real easy to make a judgement from the comfort of your home when you don't have all the facts. God gave you two ears and one mouth. Seems to me the ears take precedence over the mouth, so stop spewing and listen. However if you have a better idea, I'm sure the police will gladly listen because it sure seems like you are the man with the answers. What time would you like to set up training for?
Chap April 25, 2011 at 04:01 PM
To all of you Expert crime fighters: Were you there? Have you ever had to deal with that type of situation? It's real easy to make a judgement from the comfort of your home when you don't have all the facts. God gave you two ears, two eyes and one mouth. Seems to me the ears and the eyes take precedence over the mouth, so stop spewing, then look and listen. However if you have a better idea, Submit it in writing. Please include: The date and time you would like to set up training for, A tactical plan on how to completely establish that a house is vacant. Please deliver all this to the Oak Forest Police Department in person.
frank April 25, 2011 at 04:03 PM
This is the fourth update you have sent this morning. As I stated before, let's get on with something else. Nothing new.


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