A man demanding media attention took a female employee hostage at the Mexican consulate Tuesday before he was wounded by police outside the building. The hostage escaped unharmed.

The hostage-taker was in critical condition, police Chief William Bratton said.

"The information that we have is that his demands were to the effect 'Call 911. I want the media here,"' Bratton said. "Whatever his interests were in his having the media respond to the consulate, we just don't know at this time."

A television videotape showed the black-clad man, his arm around the woman's neck, leave a parking lot exit and down a sidewalk as police closed in. The man suddenly collapsed backward to the ground and officers pulled the woman away as others pointed their guns at him.

The man who took the hostage had a large homemade sign attached to his body. It was not clear what the sign said.

Police cordoned off several blocks around the building near downtown Los Angeles, and ambulances and fire trucks gathered nearby.

No element of terrorism was believed to be involved in the incident, Bratton said. The man was the only person involved in the hostage-taking, Mayor James Hahn (search) said.

Maria Rosales Alvarado, 40, said she had given a friend a ride to the consulate and was outside buying tamales when she saw the man holding the woman by the neck.

"I just dropped the tamales, and we got out of there," she said.