Charges: 31-year-old woman took 4 hostage at St. Paul gas station, threatened to shoot them

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Mar. 3—Armed with a handgun, Kanisha Deon Wiggins went into a Speedway gas station on St. Paul's East Side Tuesday afternoon, took four workers hostage and demanded to speak with her father, who she falsely claimed is in federal prison, according to authorities.

If not, Wiggins said, she would shoot hostages, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday charging the 31-year-old with four counts of felony kidnapping (for ransom, reward or as a shield).

SWAT team officers and crisis negotiators responded to the hostage situation at the Speedway at Johnson Parkway and East Seventh Street and were able to arrest Wiggins with no one being injured. Wiggins is a former employee of the store, according to the complaint.

Officers were called to the store just after 3 p.m. after a man reported that his girlfriend works there and that she had texted him and said she is being held at gunpoint by a woman. Officers saw Wiggins inside acting agitated, pacing back and forth and gesturing with the gun at her side, according to the complaint.

Officers attempted to negotiate with Wiggins over the phone and a public address system, the complaint said. She demanded to speak to her father in federal prison, which officers later learned was not true.

"She stated that she was going to send a hostage out to get her (Wiggins') phone out of her car and if the hostage did not return, she was going to shoot the other hostages," charges read.

A store employee ran from the store and toward officers, who brought her to safety. A short time later, officers heard a gunshot.

They forced their way into the locked store by shooting and prying out a panel of glass on the door, and brought three other hostages outside. Wiggins was found in a storage room, and officers found a handgun that had a 9mm round in the chamber, according to the complaint.

Another hostage, who works for Pepsi, told police he was loading inventory in a cooler with a store employee when Wiggins ordered them to the cashier area with two other workers. He said that Wiggins was "waving the gun around and saying that she needed to talk to her father in prison and this was the only way to make that happen," charges read. "She wanted to stream on Facebook Live and wanted her phone."

He said that when the worker ran to police instead of returning with Wiggins' phone, she became frustrated and shot a round from the gun but not at any person, according to the complaint. He said Wiggins ordered him to lie on the ground as if he had been hit by the bullet. He complied.

Another Speedway worker said Wiggins, who is a former employee, walked into the store and asked to hug her, according to the complaint. Wiggins said she needed help, so they went to the back office. She then pulled out the gun and ordered her to tell customers they had to leave.

After her arrest, Wiggins asked for a lawyer and did not participate in an interview. During negotiations with police, she said that family set up her father.

An investigator spoke to Wiggins' mother who said her daughter has been acting strangely since she returned from Tennessee in December, but never has been diagnosed with a mental illness. When the investigator asked about Wiggins' father, her mother said that he is "sitting right next to me," according to the complaint.

A day before she took the workers hostage, according to the complaint, St. Paul police responded to a Case Avenue home, where Wiggins reported her brother had been given a piece of cake with poison in it. St. Paul medics assessed the brother and he had normal vitals with no evidence that he had been poisoned, charges say.

Wiggins does not have a criminal record, beyond minor driving and parking offenses, court records show.

At an initial court appearance Thursday, Judge Janet Poston ordered that Wiggins remain at Ramsey County jail pending an evaluation of mental competency. Bail was set at $400,000. Her next court hearing is scheduled for April 13.