Man held hostage with knife to throat

SAN DIEGO - A gas station clerk in City Heights is recovering after being held hostage by a man who put a knife to his throat, Tuesday evening. 

It happened just after 6:30 p.m. at the USA Gas Station on Orange Avenue off of Fairmount.

The booth at the gas station is typically locked, unaccessible to the public. But, the clerk left the booth the check on one of the refrigerators outside. That's when a man with a knife pushed him back inside and ordered him to call police.

"The clerk had his hands up, suspect had a knife to his throat, holding him hostage inside the booth," said San Diego Police Lt. Steve Behrendt.

The suspect held the clerk hostage for 30 minutes. He threatened to both shoot and stab the clerk, but he never made any demands, according to police.

The gas station sits next to a laundromat and liquor store. People watched as SWAT units moved in and dozens of police surrounded the gas station with their weapons drawn.

The clerk was finally able to get away.

"The clerk noticed the suspect had loosened his grip on the knife. The clerk grabbed the knife from the suspect and opened the door and tried to push him out," Lt. Behrendt said. "The officers were close by and immediately rushed up to the door to effect an arrest."

The suspect was initially combative with the officers. A police dog subdued him. The clerk was not hurt, but was taken to the hospital for observation.

Police found two knives on the suspect when they took him into custody. They are still trying to determine a motive. 

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