ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — Altamonte Springs police released body-camera video Wednesday showing officers arriving to what became an hours-long hostage situation in a local restaurant.
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Investigators say 49-year-old Neal Pittard held a worker against his will for nearly eight hours inside the Hungry Howie’s on State Road 434 Monday night.
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Pittard is being held in the Seminole County jail on no bond.
The body camera video released Wednesday shows the first officers arriving on scene and asking witnesses about what they saw happen in the restaurant.
“Did you see him have a gun? It’s got a tip on it,” the officer can be heard asking one of the witnesses.
According to employees, Pittard entered the restaurant and began acting strange. Police later learned the weapon he used was a water gun wrapped in electrical tape, which they suspected early on during their response.
“Subject just came out of the store and pointed possibly an airsoft gun,” one officer relayed over the radio.
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In 911 calls released by the police department, Pittard’s wife initiates the response to the Hungry Howie’s.
“He’s been suicidal and claiming that he’s going to do some kind of felony tonight,” Pittard’s wife said. “He’s waiting for us to order a pizza. I’m not going there, but I’m just letting you know.”
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Later, dispatch received a second, frantic 911 call from inside the restaurant.
“I’m a hostage in here ma’am,” the caller says.
Body camera video from a second officer shows him arriving on scene and evacuating neighboring businesses.
As employees of the neighboring print shop prepared to leave, the video shows Pittard releasing the first hostage from inside the restaurant.
Manager Ryan Long wasn’t so lucky, as Pittard would go on to hold him hostage for more than seven hours.
Long returned to work Wednesday, grateful no one was hurt.
“I was just trying to keep everybody calm,” Long said. “Police were patient. Obviously, I think he has some mental problems.”
Long’s former boss, who owns several Hungry Howie’s franchises in Orlando says he texted Ryan to see if he was OK.
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He told dispatchers that Ryan surprisingly responded to his text as he was being held hostage.
Pittard faces a long list of charges that includes kidnapping and aggravated assault with a weapon. He’s set to appear in court in June.
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