Witnesses describe hourslong hostage situation inside Altamonte Springs Hungry Howie’s

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — The man who police say held a Hungry Howie’s manager hostage for nearly eight hours is in jail without bond after he faced a judge Tuesday afternoon.

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It happened last night at the restaurant on State Road 434 near the intersection of State Road 436 in Altamonte Springs.

The suspect, Neal Pittard, called his wife and told her he was waiting for her inside the Hungry Howie’s and made suicidal threats to her. She called 911, but before police arrived, Pittard took the manager of the pizza place hostage at gunpoint. Police later confirmed it was a water gun.

UPDATE: Man in custody after taking employee hostage at Altamonte Springs Hungry Howie’s, police say

Mike Bridges owns the printing shop next door and was just closing up as the situation unfolded.

“The gunman stuck his head out the window and shouted back and forth with the police there for, I don’t know, 15 to 20 seconds,” Bridges said. “And that’s the only time I saw him, other than what I could see through the glass from across the street.”

According to the arrest report, a Hungry Howie’s employee told officers Pittard told the store manager to walk to the waiting area and sit on one of the benches.

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Pittard then walked to the back of the store and locked the door. The employee said he did not see a firearm, but Pittard told him he would shoot him.

Another witness who was inside the store picking up her pizza told officers Pittard quickly became agitated, pacing in and out of the store. At one point, Pittard pulled out a gun and told everyone to leave the store, then locked the front door and held the manager at gunpoint with the water gun that was wrapped in electrical tape.

Around 1 a.m., police used flash bang grenades to distract Pittard and rescue the manager unharmed.

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Pittard is facing several charges, including kidnapping and aggravated assault.

Joseph Garcia is Pittard’s ex-neighbor and said PIttard was well-known around the apartment complex.

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“He’s had quite a few confrontation with everybody around here. So we all know him very well. And we were always happy when he just took off for … three to six months,” Garcia said.

Last year, Pittard was arrested and charged with domestic violence and resisting officers. He pleaded no contest to the resisting officers charge. In January of last year, he was arrested on domestic violence, but that charge was eventually dropped.


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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.