Locked inside a storage room by an armed assailant Saturday afternoon, one of two female employees frantically called a relative for help.
During that call, the gunman could be heard threatening to kill his hostages if police came in, according to new details released Monday.
Instead, it was the gunman who ended up dead after Sacramento police SWAT members ended a nerve-wracking, three-hour standoff in which 26-year-old Xang Khang who terrorized two Jack in the Box employees, police said.
One woman was able to escape, unharmed, two hours into the Folsom Boulevard ordeal. SWAT officers rescued the second woman a little more than an hour later after shooting Khang.
A paramedic who went in with SWAT officers rendered aid to Khang, but the gunman was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
As police continued their investigation into the incident, one detail remained elusive: Why Khang ignored an opportunity to clean out the registers and flee before police arrived.
Now that Khang is dead, police spokeswoman Officer Michele Gigante said, "the suspect's true motive for this incident is unknown."
Gigante noted, however, that the hostages told police that Khang smoked what appeared to be narcotics throughout the standoff.
An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, but test results that will reveal whether he was under the influence of drugs likely won't be back for weeks.
Khang's uncle, Toua Khang, said his family was at a loss to explain his nephew's actions.
"We don't know what happened," Khang said, speaking by phone from the family's south Sacramento home. "He just ended up with trouble."
Toua Khang suggested that his nephew suffered from mental health issues that seemed to be worsening. He said he was not sure whether Xang Khang was being treated for his problems, but said police seized medications from the family's home Sunday.
He said his nephew was a "quiet guy" who "used to be good." He said Xang Khang once was engaged to be married but the relationship was volatile, and the woman had called police on him.
Since that breakup several years ago, Xang Khang was not working and mostly stayed at home. He never showed violent behavior, his uncle said.
"It's just so sad, what happened to him," Toua Khang said.
According to Sacramento Superior Court records available online, Xang Khang first ran afoul of the law in 2006, when he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence.
On the same day, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence in an unrelated case, records show.
Then, in 2008, Xang Khang pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of possessing drugs and a device for smoking or injecting narcotics. He was sent to a drug diversion program, according to the online records.
There were 10 employees and customers inside the Jack in the Box, located in a strip mall near Jackson Road, when Khang burst in with a gun and began to terrorize those inside.
He grabbed an 11-year-old girl by the hair and pointed a gun at her father, threatening to kill them both, police said Monday.
When Khang released the girl and headed for the kitchen, she and her father ran outside.
Eight people were able to escape, one of them telling a nearby bail agent that the intruder had put a gun in her mouth, the agent told The Bee. After one of his two hostages fled, Khang used the remaining woman as a human shield and brought her into the bathroom with him, police said Monday. Throughout the ordeal, Gigante said, Khang was violent, volatile and unpredictable.
Negotiators tried to coax him to surrender, but their pleas went unheeded.
"Based on the suspect's violent actions, his threats to the hostages and his refusal to exit the restaurant peacefully, it was determined that deadly force may be used to save the hostage," according to a Sacramento police news release.
Six SWAT officers fired at Khang when he separated himself from the remaining hostage. Shortly before 4 p.m., the hostage ran to waiting police officers and was ushered to safety.