Athens store clerk, customer held hostage Monday - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Athens store clerk, customer held hostage Monday

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Picture courtesy of Athens Police Department. Picture courtesy of Athens Police Department.

ATHENS, TN. (WRCB) -- There were some tense moments in Athens Monday morning, when a convenience store clerk and a customer were taken hostage.

Their captor made it clear he didn't plan to hurt them. Instead he wanted them to take his life.

"I stopped by this morning and it was all roped off," says Bryan Walker.

Bryan Walker returned to the Kangaroo on Highway 30 Monday afternoon to find the crime tape gone.

But the bullet hole in the window is a reminder of what happened here earlier that morning.

It was just before 3:30 when the clerk made a trip to the dumpster and came face to face with 39-year-old Jason Gossett.

Wearing goggles and carrying an assault rifle, Gossett took the clerk and a female customer hostage.

"He immediately tells the clerk, 'I'm not here to rob, I'm here to die,'" says Captain Frank Horning.

Captain Frank Horning says Gossett ordered the woman to move her car,
which allowed her to call 911.

"He makes her move it so it doesn't look so suspicious around the convenience store," says Cpt. Horning.

That's when Gossett made his demands clear, handing the woman a large knife.

"She is told to cut his wrists," Cpt. Horning says. "Of course, a weapon is being held to her head to do this, so she does it."

She was instructed to cut him three times before police arrived.

An officer fired a single shot into the store, trying to take Gossett down.

The bullet didn't make it through the glass.

Instead the store clerk jumped him, holding Gossett down until police could make their way inside.

That's when officers made a discovery.

"After everything breaks down, we learn these are air soft guns," says Cpt. Horning.

Gossett was taken to a local hospital, and then booked at the county jail.

His hostages were not physically injured, but Bryan Walker can't imagine the emotional turmoil they experienced.

"I'm sure they went through a lot of roller coaster ups and downs," Walker says. "I'd hate to be in their shoes."

Police say Gossett had no ties to the store or his hostages.

He told them he wanted to die because he couldn't see his kids.

Gossett faces aggravated assault and felony kidnapping charges.

He's being held at the McMinn County jail on a $100,000 bond.

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