Woman charged following hostage situation at St. Paul gas station

Charges have been filed against a woman in connection to a hostage situation and standoff at a St. Paul gas station earlier this week.

Thirty-one-year-old Kanisha Deon Wiggins is charged with four counts of kidnapping for ransom, reward or as a shield. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.

St. Paul police responded to a Speedway gas station on Johnson Parkway at around 3:10 p.m. on Tuesday following reports of a hostage situation. A criminal complaint states a male reported to police that his girlfriend texted him, saying she was being held at gunpoint in the store.

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When officers arrived, they saw Wiggins — a former employee of the store — holding a pistol in the common area of the store. The complaint states officers noted she looked agitated and was pacing back and forth while gesturing with the gun at her side.

Officers tried to negotiate with Wiggins by phone and a public address system, according to the complaint, and Wiggins said if she couldn’t speak to her father in federal prison that she’d start shooting hostages. She added that she would send one of the hostages out to get her phone out of her car but if the hostage didn’t return, she’d shoot the other hostages.

During negotiations, one of the hostages sprinted out and was taken to safety by officers. The complaint states a gunshot was then heard, and officers forced their way into the store by shooting and prying out a panel of the glass door.

Once inside, officers helped the other three hostages out and found Wiggins in a storage room, the complaint states. Police also found a black and silver handgun with a 9 mm round in the chamber.

One of the hostages told police Wiggins was frustrated when the one hostage ran out and didn’t come back with her phone, and she fired the gun – but not at anyone. However, she did tell one of the hostages to get on the ground as if he’d been hit by a bullet, the complaint states.

Another of the hostages said they were held in the store for about an hour.

According to another hostage, Wiggins walked in and said she needed help and a hug. When they went to the back office together, Wiggins pulled out the gun and told the hostage to get rid of some of the customers. She told seven to 10 customers to leave before Wiggins gathered the rest in the cash register area. The hostage told police Wiggins was upset about her father, and said he was being falsely imprisoned.

Wiggins didn’t participate in an interview with police, the complaint states, but her mother called her daughter “unstable,” saying she’s been acting strangely since she returned from Tennessee in December. She also told police her daughter “drinks a lot” and had gotten into “witchcraft and spiritual stuff.”

The complaint goes on to note police had responded to an incident a day earlier involving Wiggins, when she reported her father had given her brother a piece of poisoned cake. Medics found no evidence her brother had been poisoned.

Her preliminary bail was set at $400,000.

Wiggins made her first court appearance Thursday morning, where an omnibus hearing was scheduled for the afternoon of April 13 after she was granted a public defender.

She is also ordered to not have contact with any of the victims.