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Lawyer stops woman who threatens to blow up office building

Originally published here as:
Botti stops a woman with a gun
By David Ferrara Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted on February 21, 2001

She strolled into Aldo Botti's law office around 4 p.m. wearing a parka and carrying a canvas handbag, seemingly calm.

For a moment, Sara P. Bucksar-Taja sat peacefully on a soft maroon couch in the lobby.

But police say stuffed in her bag was a .357 revolver and a Molotov-style cocktail.

If not for Botti's snap judgment, things might have gone differently Tuesday, his partners said.

"He actually saved the lives of everyone in this building. The entire office is extremely grateful for him," said Peter M. DeLongis, one of Botti's partners. "He did a tremendous job."

Sara P. Bucksar-Taja apparently had plans of destruction in the Oak Brook office of Botti, the former DuPage County Board chairman and a leading civil attorney.

Attorney Tommy E. Haught passed the Brookfield woman, and assuming she was a client, said hello. She said hello back.

Within seconds, Haught heard the woman mumbling, "complaining about the judicial system." She said she lost a custody battle and was seeking revenge, attorneys said.

Haught said he turned to see the 36-year-old woman pointing a gun at the pregnant secretary behind the front desk. Police later said the gun was loaded. Bucksar-Taja reached into her bag and pulled out "a large jar" filled with gasoline, gun powder and fertilizer, Haught said.

Holding the gun in the face of the 23-year-old receptionist, Bucksar-Taja tried to light the jar, police said. Another secretary knocked the jar over and hurried to a back office.

Haught ran to tell Botti.

Botti said he already could hear the "blood curdling" screams.

He led about 15 people into a conference room.

Nervous, he grabbed his own .357 revolver and loaded it.

"When I went to get my weapon I was nervous; I was frightened. When I got there, I was not frightened. It was adrenaline," Botti said.

Botti walked around the back of the office and saw a woman holding his secretary at gun point.

With both hands wrapped around the gun, the woman turned and aimed at Botti.

"I told her if she pulled the trigger I'd kill her," Botti said.

He stood 15 feet away, staring down the barrel of her gun, his secretary crying beside the woman.

For about five minutes, Botti pleaded with Bucksar-Taja to put down the gun.

With one hand, Botti motioned for the secretary to get under the desk and out of the line of fire. She did.

Eventually, Bucksar-Taja pulled one hand from her gun.

That was about the same time that two Oak Brook police officers arrived. After negotiating with Bucksar-Taja for about 10 minutes, she put her gun down, police said. No shots had been fired, and no one was hurt.

"I didn't shoot her because I felt there was a chance to correct the situation," Botti said.

Bucksar-Taja, of 4612 Maple St. in Brookfield, was charged with aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated assault to a police officer, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and three counts of aggravated assault.

She being held without bond in DuPage County jail Wednesday night.

The reasons why she targeted the law office at 720 Enterprise Drive remained unclear Wednesday. Botti said she was looking for someone who once rented office space in the same building as his firm, Botti, Marinaccio and DeLongis, Ltd.

Oak Brook Public Information Officer Mary Jo Nugent neither applauded nor criticized Botti for his efforts. She said the appropriate response needs to be dictated by the situation.

With the smell of gasoline still lingering from the homemade bomb Wednesday, many were shaken.

"Anyone that wasn't frightened is nuts," Botti said. "I was frightened."

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