YUBA CITY, Calif. — The clerk who talked a gunman into giving up his hostages and ending a four hour stand-off says she didn't fear for her safety, at least not after the first few minutes.
Allyson Taylor, 18, said the suspect, 29-year-old Juan Carlos Alvarez, never pointed a gun at her after waving a gun and telling everyone to get out of a Big Five Sporting Goods store in Yuba City Sunday.
"In conversation, I knew he didn't want to hurt anyone. He just wanted to go home, he wasn't about trying to do anything crazy," said Taylor.
Customers in the store didn't think the same.
"She just looked so scared and he just had her by the throat the whole time and he had the gun by her," said customer Wendy Boatwright, who ran out of the store.
Some would argue that Alvarez already did something crazy after causing a panic after firing a handgun at the ceiling. A four hour standoff followed, but it was Taylor who kept Alvarez engaged in conversation. He demanded the store keys from the manager, leading to speculation that he was after guns or ammunition that is sold in the store.
But Allyson said he never used them after taking her into the office.
"He never did anything with the keys so I don't know what his intentions were," said Taylor.
Taylor said Alvarez was always respectful and that she essentially acted as her own hostage negotiator.
"I told him as long as nobody gets hurt, you don't hurt me, surrender the gun. It's going to be all right. The cops are going to help you," said Taylor.
It was Taylor who called the police to let them know that Alvarez was giving up.
Yuba City Police praised the bravery of the hostages as well as store manager Kimberly Henry, who provided police with a layout of the store and the position of security cameras.
"All of them handled themselves with maturity, which is just so uncommon in such youthful folks like that," said Shawna Pavey, the Operations Manager and Public Affairs Officer for the Yuba City Police Department.
Fellow hostage Matt Rasul singled out Taylor.
"She didn't give in and regardless about what they say about what I did, I really think she's the hero. So I say God bless Allyson Taylor," said Rasul.
Alvarez apparently lived in Modesto until a few months ago and was in Yuba City for a construction job. Records show that he went through a divorce, which he mentioned to Taylor. But she was unsure if that's why he was so agitated.
Alvarez was arrested for multiple charges including robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment. Those charges may be revised after the District Attorney reviews the case.
Reprinted with permission from Fox40.com