A woman accused of holding four people hostage at a St. Paul gas station on Tuesday has been charged.
Kanisha Deon Wiggins, 31, of St. Paul, is charged with four counts of kidnapping in connection to the March 1 incident at the Speedway gas station at 846 Johnson Parkway in St. Paul.
She is accused of using a gun to hold four people — three Speedway workers and one Pepsi worker — hostage at the gas station, where she used to work.
Prosecutors allege Wiggins was demanding to speak with her father in “federal prison,” and when she sent one of the hostages to go get her phone from her car, police forced their way into the locked gas station by shooting and prying out a panel of the glass door.
Wiggins’ mother said her daughter has been “unstable” lately and her father was not in federal prison, charges state.
Wiggins was scheduled to make her first court appearance on Wednesday. Her preliminary bail was set at $400,000, court records show.
According to the criminal complaint, St. Paul police responded to the Speedway at 3:10 p.m. on March 1 on a report of a hostage situation. A man reported his girlfriend, a Speedway worker identified as AMS, texted him saying she was being held at gunpoint.
Police arrived and saw Wiggins in the common area of the store holding a pistol, charges said, noting “she appeared agitated, pacing back and forth, and gesturing with the gun at her side.”
Officers attempted to negotiate with Wiggins over the phone and public address system, charges said. Wiggins demanded to speak with her dad in “federal prison,” saying if she wasn’t allowed to she was going to shoot hostages. She said she was going to send a hostage out to get her phone out of her car and if the hostage didn’t return, she was going to shoot the other hostages.
During the negotiations, AMS ran toward police, who brought her to safety. A short time later, police heard a gunshot, the complaint states.
Officers forced their way into the gas station by shooting and prying out a panel of glass on the door, charges said. They helped three hostages out of the building and then found Wiggins in a storage room. Authorities recovered a handgun with a 9mm round in the chamber.
A 37-year-old hostage, identified as RGJ, told police he works for Pepsi and was loading inventory in the cooler with a 36-year-old Speedway worker, identified as MLT, when Wiggins came in and told them they needed to get out of the store. She pulled out a gun and told them to get in the cashier area with two of the other hostages, court documents state.
“She 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,” RGJ told police, charges detail. “She wanted to stream on Facebook Live and wanted her phone.”
RGJ said Wiggins sent AMS out of the store and said she would shoot the other hostages if she didn’t come back with her (Wiggins’) phone. When the hostage ran to the police, Wiggins “became frustrated” and shot the gun but not at a person, court documents allege. She then ordered RGJ to lay down as if he’d been hit by a bullet and he complied.
AMS told police she came into the gas station and saw SIG, a 30-year-old Speedway worker, speaking with Wiggins, a former Speedway employee whom AMS did not know, the complaint says. After going to the back of the store for a minute, AMS returned and saw Wiggins had a gun and was ordering SIG to lock the doors. SIG mouthed “Help me” to AMS and AMS texted her boyfriend about what was going on.
The hostages were held there for about an hour until Wiggins wanted her phone to live stream on Facebook. Wiggins sent AMS to get Wiggins’ phone, but instead AMS said she “sprinted like I’ve never sprinted in my life” to police, changes said.
SIG said she was working at Speedway when Wiggins walked into the store and asked to hug her. Wiggins said she needed help, so they went to the back office, the complaint says. Wiggins pulled out a gun and ordered SIG to get rid of the customers. SIG told the 7-10 customers who were there to leave. Wiggins then gathered the remaining people by the register area behind plexiglass.
After Wiggins was taken into custody, she asked for a lawyer and did not participate in an interview with investigators.
Police spoke with Wiggins’ mom, who said Wiggins is “unstable” but hasn’t been diagnosed with a mental illness. The mom said Wiggins has been acting strangely since returning from Tennessee in December 2021, noting she “drinks a lot” and may be using mushrooms. Wiggins also had gotten into “witchcraft and spiritual stuff,” her mom told police, according to the complaint.
Wiggins’ mom said Wiggins’ father was sitting right next to her. She said Wiggins previously made threats to take her brother with disabilities out of the home if her mom didn’t get a divorce. Wiggins’ mom said she had to call police recently because Wiggins believed someone was trying to poison her brother.
On Feb. 28, 2022, police responded to a St. Paul home, where Wiggins reported her father gave her non-verbal brother a piece of cake with poison in it, charges explained. The brother’s vitals were normal and there was no evidence he had been poisoned.
Wiggins’ mom did not know where Wiggins would have gotten a gun, the complaint adds.