by: Mark Becker Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A west Charlotte Pizza Hut employee is on leave after shooting and killing a man police said was trying to rob the restaurant early Sunday morning.
Police identified the would-be thief as 28-year-old Michael Grace.
Investigators said that just before 1:40 a.m. three people tried to break into the Pizza Hut on Freedom Drive.
Officers told Channel 9 that the employee fired his personal handgun at Grace, who died at the scene.
Police found the gun they said Grace was carrying when he was shot at the scene.
The two other intruders ran away and have not yet been found.
Pizza Hut released the following statement following the shooting:
"The local Pizza Hut franchise is fully cooperating with the Charlotte Police Department as they continue their investigation, but want to stress that the security of its staff is of utmost concern. They are providing support to the team members involved to ensure their health and well-being following this incident. The employee involved in the shooting has been placed on a leave of absence following further review."
No customers were at the restaurant at the time.
Police have not determined if the employee will face any charges.
Tony Scheer, a defense attorney and former prosecutor, said it’s extremely unlikely he would be charged.
“It's going to be a rare case that they want to do anything to the person that defended themselves to shoot somebody,” Scheer said Monday.
Police still have to identify and arrest the two suspects first, and as of late Monday they were still looking.
The location was closed Monday but management met with employees.
Channel 9 checked with Pizza Hut's corporate office on their policy for an employee carrying a weapon. A spokesman said it varies by franchise, but has not responded with the policy for the Freedom Drive location.
Anyone with information is asked to call 704-432-TIPS or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
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