AUSTIN (KXAN) - Chicken, waffles and a side of firearms were on the menu at 24 Diner early Wednesday morning.
The late night, post-SXSW party crowd eating at the restaurant saw a dramatic scene unfold as managers rushed to evacuate the diner just after 2:30 a.m.
The operation began when an Austin police officer noticed a suspicious car parked in the alley between the diner and Emerald's Boutique, near Lamar Boulevard and Sixth Street.
When he got closer to the car, the officer noticed a gun on the lap of a person sleeping inside, so the officer immediately backed up and called in some help.
Police put down stop sticks by the car, which would blow the tires if the person inside decided to drive away. They also positioned officers on all sides of the car, as well as on the roof of the diner to look down from above.
That's when they began commanding the people in the car to come out.
"They had guns drawn, making announcements like, 'Hands above your head; Come out with hands above your head,' stuff like that," said Ajay Mehta, a diner ushered out of the restaurant. "And then there were some announcements later on like, 'Cannot guarantee your safety. Come out or we're going to have to come in.'"
"An officer on the roof saw movement in the back seat, so we thought we had a third occupant," said Sgt. Stephen Andreini. "But the back windows were very, very dark, so we weren't sure."
APD called in SWAT officers, as is protocol when they are dealing with a potentially armed suspect not responding to commands.
"Somebody in the passenger side rolled down the window," said Andreini. "Apparently, the two people in the front were moving, but they were kind of lethargic. They weren't moving quickly."
About two hours after making contact, officers were finally able to coax three young men out of the car -- one at a time.
"There were a lot of people out here," said Mehta. "It was pretty intense"
All three were arrested on charges of being in possession of a controlled substance. One one of them was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Police have not said whether the men, ages 19, 22 and 26, were intoxicated. But once they were secured in three separate patrol cars, Andreini discovered why they were so tired.
"Apparently they're from Houston, in town for SXSW with nowhere to stay," said Andreini. "So they were trying to catch some sleep behind this building."
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