YUBA CITY (CBS13) – A woman was held hostage for hours at a Yuba City sporting goods store with a gun to her head while co-workers ran away in terror.
It happened Sunday afternoon at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store as SWAT team members surrounded the building and a gunman was making demands.
“All of a sudden we heard a shot,” said customer Wendy Boatright. “He told us to get to the back of the store and get down, and he grabbed the cashier by the throat and had the gun to her.”
Boatright ran along with the other customers.
Police say the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Juan Carlos Alvarez, held the 18-year-old female clerk and another employee, Matt Rasul, at gunpoint.
“It is one of the most surreal feelings and one of the most helpless feelings I’ve ever had,” said Rasul.
At the same time, officers say a manager in an office dialed 911 before being ordered out by the suspect.
Rasul didn’t want to talk about what happened during the next four hours as SWAT teams and negotiators lured Alvarez out.
“There’s nothing like the fear of not knowing, and that was what really scared me the most, is not knowing what was happening to her,” said Rasul.
Police eventually made contact with Alvarez and convinced him to give up, ending a terrifying day that could have been much worse.
“I don’t think I would have thought ever that I could have been in that situation,” said Rasul.
A spokeswoman for the Yuba City Police Department says it appears that the suspect never got his hands on any of the guns for sale inside the store, something that could have made the situation much worse.