by: Greg Suskin Updated:
UNION COUNTY, N.C. - James Eric Sims, 20, sits in jail after deputies said what started as a dispute inside a convenience store, later led to gunfire.
Union County Sheriff's deputies said Sims was inside the circle K on Chestnut Lane and Potter Road in Indian Trail trying to buy beer. He’s under age and it was after hours.
State Trooper W.L. Winchester was inside the store checking on the business when he saw Sims trying to buy beer, and the clerk refusing to sell it to him.
He urged Sims to leave, but Sims became unruly.
Winchester called a Union County Sheriff's deputy for backup, and both men were able to persuade Sims to go outside, but Sheriff Eddie Cathey said he didn't leave.
"He didn't want to move on. He was outside, and when he saw the officers again, he opened fire," Cathey said.
Winchester and Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Ciucevich found Sims waiting for them when they walked around the side of the store to make sure he was gone.
Troopers said it looked like an ambush.
All three fired multiple shots. Somehow, no one was injured.
"They were trying to take cover and get out of sight. He was shooting. They were shooting, and moving," Cathey said.
Deputies said Sims ran off down Potter Road, and into some woods. He was later captured in a neighborhood.
Channel 9 learned that Sims is on probation for assaulting a Stallings police officer last summer. That incident happened at another circle k store on Highway 74, only 2 miles from the scene of Wednesday’s incident.
In that case, Stallings police said Sims and another man were being disorderly in the store. Sims head butted an officer and was arrested.
Sims' family told Channel 9 Wednesday afternoon they had nothing to say about his arrest this time.
Regular customers at the Circle K store were shocked to hear about what happened right outside.
"I think it's crazy, and I can't believe that it happened in this area," said Patricia Hutteman.
Deputies and troopers are reviewing their dash cam video and any video from the convenience store to see if it captured any of the shooting incident.
Sims is in jail on $100,000 bond.
He’s charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a government officer, possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon, drunk and disruptive, possession of a malt beverage while underage, obstructing a public officer and discharging a firearm inside the city limits of Indian Trail.