Popcorn Company Employee Took Exec Hostage At Gunpoint, Police Say

Leonora Banuelos took her workplace, Popcornopolis, hostage for three hours. A day after the country was reeling from the shocking Boston Marathon bombings, a small Southern California company reportedly was in the grips of its own violent drama. Leonora Banuelos walked into her office at Popcornopolis with a semiautomatic pistol and took her boss hostage, authorities said. Banuelos, 21 (pictured right), allegedly ordered all the workers on site to leave the premises except the CFO, and then held him hostage for three hours, according to reports.

According to news reports, a SWAT team had surrounded the building in El Segundo and convinced Banuelos to release the CFO unharmed. The CFO wasn't named in reports, but authorities said she targeted the CFO because he was the highest-ranking official in the office. According to news reports, Banuelos allegedly was upset over a "failed relationship" with a co-worker at Popcornopolis, a gourmet popcorn company located just outside of Los Angeles. She's currently being held on $100,000 bail. She's been booked for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and making criminal threats, The Associated Press is reporting.

Speaking to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Wally Arnold, one of the company's founders, said, "We are grateful for our courageous employees. We are grateful that everything appears to have concluded in the best possible way."

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The close call at Popcornopolis is of a piece with the times. As was reported by AOL Jobs earlier this year, workplace violence is on the rise. According to Dr. Larry Barton, an expert in crisis management and consultant to Fortune 500 companies, 2012 was the "worst year in about 20 years" for workplace homicides. He says that homicides were up 50 percent from 2011 to last year.

How to quell the violence remains a contentious issue. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted down three measures that would expand gun control. The measures included more extensive background checks, and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines.

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