Suspect arrested after holding gas station employee hostage

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SAN DIEGO – A knife-wielding robber locked himself and a gas station employee inside the cashier booth at a City Heights USA Gas Station, prompting a brief SWAT standoff that ended with a scuffle with officers and the suspect’s arrest, police said Wednesday.

The 56-year-old suspect pulled a knife on a cashier as he stepped out of the secured booth behind the counter at USA Gasoline at the corner of Orange and Fairmount avenues shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, then followed him back inside, San Diego police Officer John Buttle said. The suspect drew a second knife then locked the door with a deadbolt so the cashier couldn’t get out.

The suspect ordered the cashier to call the police, then began smoking a pack of cigarettes he took while they waited.

Police officers and a SWAT team took up positions during the time — about 30 minutes — when the suspect held the cashier hostage. However, the cashier was eventually able to grab the suspect’s knives and push him out the booth’s door, Buttle said.

The suspect, whose name was not immediately available, was arrested after fighting with officers and a police dog, Buttle said.

The victim wasn’t harmed but was taken to a hospital as a precaution, according to the officer.