The city's police chief said he appealed "as a father" to a distraught postal worker whom he recognized as an acquaintance and persuaded to surrender after the gunman shot three people and took a hostage.

A psychiatric evaluation was ordered Thursday for Warren Murphy, 39, who was charged with assault with intent to commit murder during the 13-hour ordeal at the main New Orleans post office.Murphy gave himself up late Thursday morning and released his hostage, a 29-year-old postal worker described as his girlfriend, said police spokeswoman Carmine Menchel. The hostage, Carol Smith, was not harmed.

Three people were shot during the ordeal but none was in serious condition, hospital spokesmen said.

New Orleans Police Chief Warren Woodfork, who talked Murphy into surrendering, said the suspect was concerned about his marital breakup and the welfare of his children, who reportedly were in his estranged wife's custody in Washington.

"I just tried to appeal to him as a father," said Woodfork. "We have a lot in common. He has kids. I have kids. Our sons played football together.

"So I can understand if he was concerned about his children," Woodfork said.

During the two hours of negotiations, Woodfork said Murphy told him he also was worried that police would try to shoot him if he stepped from the building.

"I told him I'd meet him halfway, and when he walked out I was there," Woodfork said. "He had thrown the shotgun out."

Murphy also was distraught over problems at work, authorities said.

"He told the agent he was hoping to get upper management's attention," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Africk. "I'd say he got everyone's attention."