Suspect in custody following hostage situation at Gold Bar grocery store

GOLD BAR, Wash. — A suspect is in custody following a hostage situation inside a Gold Bar grocery store on Tuesday night, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Just before 6:30 p.m., a man walked into Gold Bar Family Grocer, armed with a handgun, and took a person inside hostage.

According to court documents, the 55-year-old suspect was naked from the waist down as he entered the store.

A cashier yelled at him, telling him to leave, but he proceeded to walk through the store before entering a back office.

There, he encountered a cashier counting her till.

The woman told police she initially believed the man had mistakenly thought the office was a bathroom, according to documents.

She said the man was belligerent and sat in front of the office door, preventing her from leaving.

Other employees attempted to enter the office, but the woman yelled that he had a gun and told them not to enter the room.

A SWAT team responded to the scene, and law enforcement actively negotiated with the suspect for several hours.

The suspect surrendered shortly before 10 p.m.

He was then taken into custody and booked into the Snohomish County Jail on suspicion of first-degree kidnapping and indecent exposure.

Jessica Fritts tells KIRO 7 she was closing up at Let’s Go Espresso Tuesday night right before the chaos ensued.

“It had to have been unfolding as I was going home, because the cops were not here yet,” Fritts said. “People behind me had come into the store telling me what was going on here, and I couldn’t believe it because I had just left.”

According to the court documents, the reporting officer says the hostage kept her composure by giving the man food, cigarettes and other things to keep him calm.

Fritts claims to know the woman who was held hostage. After learning about how the situation was deescalated, she says she isn’t surprised by the woman’s actions.

“It doesn’t surprise me that she just wanted to comfort him and help him,” Fritts said.

Many others in the community would agree the hostage’s actions were key in a peaceful surrender.

“I’m just thankful that she probably realized that he was suffering more mentally than (being) there to actually hurt someone,” one woman told KIRO 7.

KIRO 7 spoke to some employees off-camera about the incident. They say the woman held hostage is doing ok. They hope the man who walked in gets the help they believe he needs.