It all started at the Taqueria Arandas Mexican Restaurant at around 9:55 last night. Police say two black men came to the back of the restaurant and assaulted an employee outside the building. After herding 38-year-old Santo Reyes back into the building, the men took the five employees inside hostage. One escaped very early on, and was able to call 911. Bryan Police responded to the scene within minutes and cordoned off the area.
All the remaining employees except Reyes were moved into a back room and locked away. At 10:10, the two suspects left the building, using Reyes as a human shield. Authorities say at least one of the men was armed. It is unknown who fired the first shots, but police did hit one of the suspects multiple times. He died upon arrival at St. Joseph. The other man, Stephen Kendrick Gilbert, was hit twice, and made it all the way into the middle of Texas Avenue before collapsing.
Gilbert was arrested, and will be formally charged with aggravated robbery. He is currently in stable condition at St. Joseph Hospital.
"I don't believe that we had more than two officers engaging the suspects at any one time," said Bryan PD's assistant chief Peter Scheets. "It's just that they were moving from the rear of the restaurant around the north side of the building through an alley, and then finally to the front of the restaurant."
The three employees still inside and police outside did not know whether there were further robbers in the building, but eventually, the employees broke out of the back room. SWAT team officials were able to make contact with those inside, and at around 1 AM, the three made their way out of the building. Two of the three had been assaulted. As a standard procedure in cases of this nature, police handcuffed the three as a precaution. The two women and one man were taken to St. Joseph and treated.
"In terms of a robbery with hostages or victims in the control of the robbery suspects, I think that's probably one of the most difficult situations that patrol officers can face," said Scheets.
As of early this morning, the two sergeants and four officers who discharged their weapons had been placed on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues. They are: Sergeant Steve French a 10 year police department veteran, Sergeant Demond Oliver an 8 year police department veteran, Officer Al Hauke who has served with the department for 8 years, Officer Travis Hines who has served with the department for 4 years, Officer Andrea Schooler who has served with the department for 3 years, and Officer Matthew Harrison who has served with the department for 1 year.
As part of their investigation, officials are looking into a possible connection to a string of assaults committed by two black men against Bryan Latinos.