Chinese restaurant hostage incident ends peacefully

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Police surprised three suspects who were in the middle of a botched robbery at a Chinese takeout and restaurant in West Philadelphia.

A family of three clutched each other as they were led away to safety early Wednesday morning. Police say the married couple - owners of Hong Heng takeout - and their 11-year-old daughter had been held hostage for several hours inside the restaurant located on the 4200 block of West Ogden Street. Officers had responded to a robbery in progress around midnight.

The security grate was pulled down, but through the cracks officers spotted the suspects who were allegedly demanding money and rifling through items. With the victims trapped inside, officers called in the SWAT team and hostage negotiators.

Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small explains, "We declared it a barricaded person situation. We cordoned off area and contained the front, rear, and sides of restaurant."

Police determined three suspects in their late teens and early twenties were inside, allegedly armed with two handguns. Authorities say a family member of the suspect helped provide information during the course of negotiations. Just before 3:00 a.m. the suspects released the victims, then surrendered soon after.

"We were able to talk these individuals out. No deadly force necessary other than talking them into surrendering," said Chief Inspector Small.

The K-9 and crime scene units were on scene this morning searching for the weapons. Carlotta Blackwell lives nearby and says her daughter was in the store years ago when the same location was robbed at gunpoint under a different owner. Her heart goes out to the child and her family.

Blackwell tells us, "The young girl, it's going to take her awhile to heal - even the family, to heal... it will."

The suspects face robbery and other charges.

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