Antioch gas station owner shares story of being taken hostage

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KTVU) - A gas station owner held hostage in Antioch for several hours on Wednesday is sharing his story.

He described what it was like to be held against his will by a man with a gun.

"I was worried about you and I'm glad that you're OK," said a customer who approached 75-year-old Jagdish Bhalla. He received well wishes and plenty of attention the day after his harrowing ordeal.

"Get me a damn car. Get me a damn car. Don't mess with me. I want it in 10 minutes," said Bhalla who was taken hostage at his Arco station, quoting the gunman as he talked with police by phone.

But Bhalla says the way the armed man treated him and his employee was completely different. "He said don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you." And that was a cue to Bhalla.

So, for the rest of his time in captivity, he worked to win the man's confidence. "I told him if you are hungry, can I offer you something to eat? We have cookies, chips, nothing more than that."

Late on Thursday, Antioch Police released a mugshot of the suspect, identifying him as 35-year-old Horacio Gutierrez of Newark.

The hostage situation capped off a scary day in which - investigators say - the suspect crashed a stolen car, led the CHP on a high speed chase, and carjacked someone, before being the target of CHP gunfire.

That all led to the suspect running into the Arco station, where Bhalla watched out for him. "And then I told him, look, you have come under my roof, it becomes my moral responsibility, my social responsibility to protect you to the best of my capacity."

But Bhalla and his employee did try to escape when the man dozed off. "For about 30 seconds, he went into a deep sleep. We tried to open the door. But could not open the door. It was stuck."

Eventually, they got out and Gutierrez was arrested without incident.

Police say Gutierrez was wanted on a $300,000 warrant out of Tracy for auto theft, carjacking and brandishing a weapon.

Now, he's also facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking, kidnapping, auto theft and felony evading arrest with a bail in excess of $1,000,000.

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