ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Altamonte Springs police released multiple videos and 911 calls in connection with a pizza shop standoff during which a man was arrested after holding a manager hostage for seven hours Monday night into Tuesday morning.
A 911 caller alerted police to the situation involving 49-year-old Neal Pittard, who entered the Hungry Howie’s, located at 491 N. State Road 434, and waved around “a small black object, which appeared to be a firearm” while threatening the store’s manager, Ryan Long.
“I spoke to somebody earlier, but I’m trying to help you guys locate (Pittard), whose been suicidal and claiming that he’s gonna do some kind of felony tonight,” the caller told the 911 operator. “He just called us from... Hungry Howie’s... He’s either hiding by the bank or waiting for a pizza.”
[WARNING: 911 call below contains graphic language]
A Seminole County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was deployed, as well as negotiators and other agencies, to get Pittard to stand down.
He can be heard phoning a 911 operator, saying “Y’all ever answer the (expletive) phone? I’ve been calling you. I’m down here at Hungry Howie’s with a hostage.”
When the operator says she understands he’s upset, he fires off at her.
“You don’t understand (expletive). You don’t care about my situation,” Pittard said.
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.
Video shows an officer asking a witness who was near the scene if the suspect had a gun, to which she replies she saw a weapon with an “orange tip on top of it.”
“He’s pointing an airsoft gun,” he told a fellow law enforcement officer on the other end of the radio. Later, investigators found a “small blue water gun wrapped in black electrical tape” at the scene of the standoff, according to an arrest report.
Another video shows an Altamonte Springs officer evacuating employees at a neighboring business as the hostage standoff unfolded.
You can hear another law enforcement officer tell him via radio the suspect let a Hungry Howie’s employee go and locked the shop’s front door.
Footage shows the employee walk out slowly and look back at the officer, who tells him, “You’re good. Just go, go.”
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.
Police said they arrested Pittard and released Long, who was uninjured, on Tuesday.
“It was just a long night. It was a difficult situation, but we all got out safe. Everyone is OK,” Long said in an interview Tuesday. “He was a customer sometimes that I’ve seen before, but no, I didn’t know him.”
Pittard faces multiple charges, including false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery, Altamonte Springs police said. He was denied bond by a judge on Tuesday.