WARNER ROBINS — An employee was opening the Huddle House on Russell Parkway early Wednesday when she was taken hostage by another woman who tied her to a chair with a rope, police said.
Christina Robbins, 46, of Bonaire, a former Huddle House employee, was taken into custody without anyone being injured, said Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police. Robbins had a small toy gun that looked real and two large knives on her when arrested, Pugh said.
The Huddle House employee, Lisa Young, 44, of Bonaire, was taken to Houston Medical Center as a precaution to be checked out and was later released. Robbins, who was taken to Houston Medical Center for a mental evaluation, is facing charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and false imprisonment upon her release from the hospital.
Why Robbins took Young hostage was not known Wednesday, Pugh said.
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Police responded to a 911 call at 6:15 a.m. of an unwanted person at the Huddle House at 215 Russell Parkway that quickly turned into a hostage situation, Pugh said.
Initial reports were that as police were en route, the hostage situation was reported by fleeing customers. But Young was actually alone in the restaurant and opening it up for business when she was allegedly taken hostage by Robbins, Pugh said.
All Warner Robins patrol units were dispatched and a Warner Robins special tactical team was activated, Pugh said.
Hostage negotiators were also dispatched.
The tactical team swarmed the outside of the restaurant, and Russell Parkway was shut down at Tallulah Trail and at Southland Station Drive, Pugh said.
The tactical team made entry into the rear of the restaurant at 8:38 a.m.
Tactical officers used a flash bang device that emits a loud noise and blinding light to distract Robbins and take her into custody, Pugh said.
The road was reopened to traffic after police resolved the situation. The restaurant remained closed late Wednesday afternoon.
Houston County sheriff’s deputies, Warner Robins firefighters and Houston Healthcare emergency medical workers also responded.
Alex Lillie, a manager at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill across the street at 314 Russell Parkway, said when he arrived to open the restaurant, he saw some police crime scene tape up near the Enmark gas station, which is located next to Huddle House.
He also saw two or three police cars.
Lillie went to the back of the restaurant for about 10 minutes and returned to the front to see through the windows law enforcement officers everywhere, including the tactical team in full gear with snipers setting up with rifles in the Applebee’s parking lot.
He started to go outside, but an officer motioned him back inside.
The Rev. Jim McIlrath, senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church at 511 Russell Parkway, which has a school on campus about a mile west of the restaurant, said he was at an annual prayer event at another school when he received a call from police advising him of the situation.
He immediately headed to Christ United Methodist Church School, which has an enrollment of 299 students from pre-school to fifth grade, to brief arriving teachers on the situation.
About four teachers and their children, also students of the school, were already on campus and all were ushered into the fellowship hall, the farthest building from the restaurant.
Teachers, as they came in, called parents, while McIlrath and other staff members remained outside to help any arriving parents who may not have received word. With the hostage situation resolved, the school was able to start late at 10 a.m.
McIlrath noted that teachers and staff had just completed lock-down training for such crisis events with Warner Robins police on Monday. The pastor commended authorities for their response and handling of the situation Wednesday.
“They did a great job with the hostage situation,” McIlrath said.
“It all ended without anybody getting hurt.”
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.