WATCH: Manager held hostage in Altamonte Springs pizza shop speaks after standoff

Hungry Howie’s worker rescued; suspect ID’d as Neal Pittard

Ryan Long was working at Hungry Howie’s, located at 491 N. State Road 434, Monday night when 49-year-old Neal Pittard entered the shop, grew agitated and waved around “a small black object, which appeared to be a firearm,” an arrest report shows.

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – A manager at an Altamonte Springs pizza shop spoke out after being held hostage for seven hours Monday night into Tuesday morning.

Ryan Long was working at Hungry Howie’s, located at 491 N. State Road 434, Monday night when 49-year-old Neal Pittard entered the shop, grew agitated and waved around “a small black object, which appeared to be a firearm,” an arrest report shows.

“It was just a long night. It was a difficult situation, but we all got out safe. Everyone is OK,” Long said. “He was a customer sometimes that I’ve seen before, but no I didn’t know him.”

The manager of a Hungry Howie's located in Altamonte Springs was held hostage for 7 hours late Monday night into Tuesday morning.

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According to an arrest report, Pittard’s wife had informed authorities that her husband was at the Hungry Howie’s and had made suicidal threats.

Police said Pittard told everyone to leave the shop except for the Hungry Howie’s manager, who was forced to sit down on the bench next to him.

A Seminole County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was deployed, as well as negotiators and additional agencies, to get Pittard to stand down.

According to an arrest report Pittard held the alleged firearm up to the hostage’s head multiple times throughout negotiations as he made demands of the responding law enforcement agencies.

Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, police activated their sirens, which were accompanied by several loud bangs and smoke, and a swarm of SWAT team officers escorted Pittard out of the building on a stretcher and loaded him into an ambulance, detectives said.

A police standoff ends at a pizza shop in Altamonte Springs.

Long was not harmed, according to officers.

On Tuesday, News 6 spoke with Long, who has already returned to work and said that he is “doing OK.”

Long said he spent a long time talking to Pittard, and a lot was said.

“When you are here for a long time talking, so I was trying to keep things calm and police were patient,” Long said.

After the seven-hour police standoff, officers said they entered the shop and found a “small blue water gun wrapped in black electrical tape.” Police did not mention any other weapon being found in the restaurant.

Pittard was arrested Tuesday morning following the standoff that started around 5:20 p.m. Monday, according to the Altamonte Springs Police Department.

He is facing multiple charges, including false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery, investigators said.

Pittard was denied bond on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Long is just happy things are getting back to normal.

“I feel good and these customers are coming back. We are all safe and we are all feeling good. Employees are all happy to come back,” Long said.


About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.