RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — A chase that started in Rowan County before dawn ended with an attempted armed robbery suspect being shot and killed by authorities at the North Carolina Zoo in Randolph County, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials said the chain of events that led up to 21-year-old Troy Castor’s death started after he tried to rob a taxi driver Monday evening.
According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, a taxi driver picked Castor up around 5 p.m. on Rock Hill Church Road, in Concord, and drove him to Arcadia Road near China Grove.
When they got there, the taxi driver said she told Castor the price of the ride, and that’s when he demanded all her money.
“I look back to get the money from him and he had the gun, and he said, ‘Give me your money,’” taxi driver Francis Mason said.
She said when she turned around to look at him, he pointed a pink handgun at her face and pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t go off.
“I heard a click. The gun didn’t fire the very first time,” said Mason, who works for Carolina Taxi in Kannapolis.
She then tried to wrestle the gun away from Castor and the gun went off, firing a bullet through the taxi’s window.
Deputies said Castor then hopped out of the car while pointing the gun at the driver, who quickly sped off.
"When I saw that door was open and he was getting out, I took off,” Mason said.
According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, authorities were able to connect Castor to the theft of a pink handgun Saturday in Salisbury, which they believe was used in the attempted robbery.
Salisbury police were already looking for Castor after the gun was stolen but were unable to find him. Rowan County deputies obtained warrants for Castor’s arrest on suspicion of attempted armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and began their search for him.
After looking throughout the night, deputies said they spotted Castor around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday driving a vehicle with no tag near his home on Phaniels Church Road. They tried to pull him over, but he sped off.
Rowan County deputies said they followed him into Rockwell and onto Highway 52, toward Stanly County with the chase reaching speeds of over 100 mph.
Deputies continued chasing Castor through Davidson County into Randolph County where the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office joined.
"He was driving in a very erratic manner, and he wasn’t gonna stop for anyone,” Randolph County Sheriff Gregory J. Seabolt.
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According to deputies, Castor fired shots at them as he drove toward the North Carolina Zoo’s Africa section.
“As the chase continued down the zoo parkway, the suspect fired shots at our deputies,” Seabolt said.
Deputies said when they got to a gravel parking lot behind the section, more shots were fired and Castor was hit.
“At that point, shots were fired that led to the death of the suspect," Seabolt said.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Several deputies were involved, but no law enforcement officers were injured.
The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating.
The North Carolina Zoo will be open Tuesday and zoo officials said the area is safe.
“The cab driver is lucky to be alive,” Seabolt said. “By the grace of God, the gun did not fire.”
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