Local gas station employee held hostage for 6 hours speaks out for first time


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A gas station employee held hostage for six hours on Sunday is sharing his experience for the first time.

Photo: WJHL

James Williams, 29, told News Channel 11 the standoff occurred during his first shift working alone at the Marathon Gas Station on South Roan Street in Johnson City. He said it was his third week on the job.

Williams said he heard several gun shots outside around 8:40 PM.

“I heard the window shatter. Then I knew something was wrong,” Williams said.

He said there were no customers inside when a man he had never seen before charged the counter.

That man was 35 year-old Marc Skeen of Limestone, Tennessee.

“When he first looked at me, I could tell he wasn’t in his right mind. His eyes were as big as baseballs,” Williams said.

Court documents show Skeen admitted to police he was using methamphetamine.

READ MORE: COURT DOCUMENTS: Suspect in S Roan St. hostage situation laid under victim while pointing gun at victim’s head

Skeen also told police he was already fleeing from law enforcement that night and he took Williams hostage to buy time.

“He said ‘I just need time to think and this is the only way I knew how to do it,'” said Williams.

Williams said a drive-through customer saw what was happening through the window and called 911.

Williams said, “He [Skeen] physically had a hold of me the entire night with his weapon shoved in my neck and head.”

Williams said there were several times during the six hour standoff when he thought Skeen would pull the trigger.

As officers and a SWAT team surrounded the Marathon, Skeen allegedly laid down inside the gas station with the clerk on top of him. Skeen pointed the gun at the victim’s head and told him he would kill him if law enforcement entered the building.

Williams said all he was thinking about was his family. “My mother, my father, my kids, everything,” he said. “My mother was terrified, my grandmother, bless her heart, she was shaking more than I was.”

Police eventually calmed Skeen down, convincing him to release Williams unharmed.

“They did a fantastic job,” Williams said. “If it wasn’t for them I don’t know that I would be standing here.”

“It seemed like it took me forever to get home,” he said. “When I saw my parents, we probably hugged for like an hour–just standing there holding each other.”

Skeen was arraigned in Carter County Court Wednesday on charges of assault and kidnapping.

The convicted felon was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.

As for Williams, he’s trying to get back to work without recalling the painful moments of Sunday night.

Showing News Channel 11 the store corner where he was held hostage, Williams got choked up. “I don’t want to get too close,” he said. “Having to go to the same corner, it hit me very hard.”

Skeen is expected to be back in court August 13th.

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