The Hold-Up

The siren’s blared as the police rushed to the gas station on mile X of Highway X.  They had just received a call from a woman who’d been on the phone with her grandson when she heard screaming and yelling on the line and her grandson told her over the racket that there was a hold up at the cash register. In a panic, she hung up the phone and dialed 9-1-1. The police were at the scene in less than five minutes. They surrounded the gas station and directed all vehicles and people off the premises while the SWAT team got in position. The Police Chief began yelling into his megaphone while the people who had been ushered away watched from a distance. “We have you surrounded,” he yelled in his Police Chief Voice. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt…” The silence was broken by a high-pitched scream and ear-splitting wail. The police squad looked around at each other. The wailing increased and was soon followed by the sound of crashing. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt,” Police Chief Voice repeated and he gave the signal to the SWAT team to start moving in. “Come out now with your hands up!”

The police could see movement inside the store and the door suddenly opened. A young man looked confused as he walked out onto the parking lot and was quickly grabbed by a member of the SWAT team. “Is there anyone else in there?” “Yes but…” he said and was then pushed aside while the SWAT team moved in to collect a couple walking out of the store with their hands help in the air. The wailing stopped momentarily and Police Chief Voice yelled, “stay where you are, we’re coming in!” He motioned to the SWAT team to go into the store. Bystanders watched as the heavily-armored members of the team burst into the gas station store. The screaming began again in earnest, panic washed over the Police Chief. “What’s going on in there?” he called over his head-set to the SWAT team lead. “Talk to me!”

Silence.

“Sir,” the response came from within the gas station, “there’s been a mistake.” “What do you mean a mistake?” “Perhaps you should come in and see for yourself,” said the SWAT team lead. By then, the local news station had gotten wind of the situation and had a chopper flying overhead. They were talking to the bystanders and trying to land an interview with one of the hostages. Police Chief walked over to the gas station store. The bystanders watched as he entered and closed the door behind him. Ten minutes later, the Police Chief walked out followed by the SWAT team. They all piled into their cars and drove away.  Eventually, the local news got a hold of the story:

Hold-up at Highway X Gas Station

By Local Journalist

This afternoon at around 3:00 p.m., the X Police Station received a distress call from an elderly woman who had been alerted to a hold-up at the gas station where her grandson had stopped on his way to her house. Mrs. A grew concerned when she heard screaming over the line and hastily called up the local police station who were on the scene within minutes of receiving the call. “It was a very frightening situation,” said Ms. L who had been rushed off the premises by the police and had to leave her purse and puppy in her car while the situation was brought under control. “I wasn’t even going to stop here,” said one man “but the next gas station isn’t for another 20 miles and they don’t even sell jerky.” 

Within ten minutes after the arrival of the police, the first customers trapped in the gas station began to emerge. We were unable to interview any of the hostages as they had all left the gas station before this journalist had an opportunity to talk to them. A few minutes later the SWAT team went in and were soon followed by Police Chief. They remained indoors and out of contact for almost a quarter of an hour before they emerged, empty-handed. Police Chief declined our request for an interview but we were able to talk to one of the members of the police staff who agreed to share information under anonymity. 

This was my first time responding to a code red crisis so I was a bit nervous going in. We could hear screaming and wailing and things being tossed around so we went in very cautiously and fully expecting to find ourselves in the midst of a very violent situation. What we saw was a young girl, probably about four, thrashing around on the floor in a fit of anger. She was clutching a handful of candy bars that had been squashed and were smeared all over her dress.  In her anger, she had gotten her foot caught in one of the shelves and it had toppled over showering her with bags of chips, some of which had opened and were strewn all over the floor and in her hair. The girl’s mother stood off to the side and as she saw us come in she said, ‘take her, she’s all yours.’

The Police Chief spoke to the mother who clarified the situation. She and her daughter had come in to use the restroom. On the way out, the girl had asked for a candy bar which the mother refused. In response, the girl grabbed a handful of candy bars, threw herself on the floor and refused to move. When the mother tried to pick her up, the girl started kicking and thrashing around and made it impossible to get near her. Unfortunately, because she was in front of the cash register, nobody could get up to the cash register either.”

What the young man had said to his grandmother was, in fact, accurate. There was indeed a hold-up at the cash register but the threat was of a very different kind than what Ms. A envisioned. The mother and daughter in question were unavailable to confirm this story as they too left shortly after the police and SWAT team departed. There is no further information on this incident.

… and that’s how little Jane got her start.

All content is copyrighted by Karla Valenti. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is expressly forbidden.

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