Woman sentenced to probation for holding four workers hostage at St. Paul gas station

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A St. Paul woman has been sentenced to five years of probation for holding four workers hostage inside a Speedway store where she used to work.

Armed with a handgun, Kanisha Deon Wiggins went into the Speedway at Johnson Parkway and East Seventh Street on the city’s East Side around 3 p.m. March 4, 2022, and during an ensuing standoff with police demanded to speak with her father, who she falsely claimed is in federal prison, according to the charges.

Kanisha Deon Wiggins (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

If not, Wiggins said, she would shoot hostages, according to the criminal complaint charging her with four counts of felony kidnapping for ransom, reward or as a shield. At one point, she fired off one shot; no one was injured.

Wiggins, 33, reached a plea deal with Ramsey County prosecutors this March. Judge Leonardo Castro followed terms of the deal at last week’s sentencing, giving her probation and no additional jail time beyond the 149 days she had already served after her arrest. Two of the four charges were dismissed.

Wiggins, who did not address the court, was also ordered to pay $5,630 restitution and continue with and complete mental health programming.

According to the complaint, officers were called to the store after a man reported that his girlfriend works there and that she had texted him and said she is being held at gunpoint by a woman. Officers arrived and saw Wiggins inside acting agitated, pacing back and forth and gesturing with the gun at her side.

Officers attempted to negotiate with Wiggins over the phone and a public address system. She demanded to speak to her father who was in federal prison, which officers later learned was not true.

“She stated that she was going to send a hostage out to get her (Wiggins’) phone out of her car and if the hostage did not return, she was going to shoot the other hostages,” charges say.

A store employee ran from the store and toward officers, who brought her to safety. A short time later, officers heard a gunshot.

They forced their way into the locked store by shooting and prying out a panel of glass on the door, and brought the three other hostages outside. Wiggins was found in a storage room, and officers found a handgun that had a 9mm round in the chamber.

A man told police that when the other worker ran to police instead of returning with Wiggins’ phone, Wiggins became frustrated and shot a round from the gun but not at any person. He said Wiggins ordered him to lie on the ground as if he had been hit by the bullet. He complied.

Another worker said Wiggins, who is a former employee, walked into the store and asked to hug her. Wiggins said she needed help, so they went to the back office. She then pulled out the gun and ordered her to tell customers they had to leave.

After her arrest, Wiggins asked for a lawyer and did not participate in an interview.

An investigator spoke to Wiggins’ mother who said her daughter had been acting strangely since she returned from Tennessee in December, but never had been diagnosed with a mental illness. When the investigator asked about Wiggins’ father, her mother said that he was “sitting right next to me,” the complaint says.

Wiggins does not have a prior criminal record, beyond minor driving and parking offenses, court records show.

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