"God Bless Him:" Antioch Gas Station Hostage Describes "Nice" Suspect Who Drank Brisk Tea - NBC Bay Area
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"God Bless Him:" Antioch Gas Station Hostage Describes "Nice" Suspect Who Drank Brisk Tea

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    Many would imagine that being taken as a hostage would be scary and nerve-wracking. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Thursday, May 28, 2015)

    Many would imagine that being taken as a hostage would be scary and nerve-wracking.

    But Jagdish Bhalla, 75, who was one of two hostages held against his will inside an Arco gas station in Bay Area for hours on Wednesday, described the ordeal differently.

    "I'm feeling great," the Antioch gas station owner said Thursday. "He was nice to me. He never misbehaved, did not use filthy language. He treated me very respectful."

    In turn, Bhalla offered the 35-year-old suspect, Horacio Gutierrez  – who was arrested after surrendering peacefully to police Wednesday afternoon – Brisk tea so that he wouldn't "have a hard attitude toward me."

    Both he and the other hostage, a gas station employee, were eventually allowed to leave the station in the 2600 block of Contra Loma Boulevard. They had been kept in a back room during the standoff. Bhalla said the Gutierrez, who authorities said lives in Newark, never pointed a gun at them, although he had one at his side.

    He was never bound, and was allowed to make a phone call to his family. At one point, Gutierrez dozed off, Bhalla said, which is when he and the employee were thinking of making a run for it. But just then, the man woke up and forbid them to do so, Bhalla said.

    Authorities said the suspect had been armed and carjacked several vehicles about 11 a.m. while driving through Antioch, Concord, Pittsburgh and back to Antioch. The California Highway Patrol lay down a strike strip, puncturing his car's tires, and the suspect eventually ran into the gas station, taking both the station's owner and the employee as hostages.

    Police told the Contra Costa Times Gutierrez had an "extensive rap sheet" that included arrests for drug violations, burglary and vehicle thefts.

    Asked if he wanted to say anything to the man who held him for four hours? Bhalla said it was the "best day of my life," because he survived the harrowing ordeal.

    "I say, 'Thank you,'" Bhalla said. "And God bless him in his life."

    Hostage Situation at Arco Gas Station in Antioch Ends Peacefully

    [BAY] Hostage Situation at Arco Gas Station in Antioch Ends Peacefully
    SWAT teams officers handcuffed a suspected hostage taker outside a Bay Area gas station on Wednesday after he reportedly took two hostages. Kim Yonenaka and Cheryl Hurd report.
    (Published Wednesday, May 27, 2015)

    NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

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