Deputies: Disgruntled customer fired shots at auto repair shop owner

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — Detectives said they have spoken with the district attorney's office about increasing charges for a man accused of opening fire at an auto repair shop owner in Lincoln County on Thursday.

Officials said investigators are looking to increase charges from assault with a deadly weapon to attempted murder. They said he was an angry customer who had already threatened the owner before opening fire.

Officers responded to Chemistry Lab Paint and Fab along N.C. 16 Business in Denver around 5:40 p.m after receiving reports that two people got into an argument inside the business and shots were fired.

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Deputies said McQuiller, who was upset about some work that the shop did on his car, came into the business to confront the owner.

Deputies said McQuiller began firing a handgun at employees from outside the door and then went inside and fired another shot.

Channel 9's Gaston County reporter Ken Lemon obtained 911 calls and they revealed the chaotic moments when investigators said roughly six employees were inside, caught off guard.

"He just came in and started firing," the 911 caller said. "Shots fired. We're getting, we're uh. Somebody's shooting at us right now. We're inside the building. We need somebody here ASAP."

The owner of the business then grabbed a shotgun from his office and fired at McQuiller, hitting with several small pellets in the face and neck.

Deputies said after the shooting, McQuiller ran into the woods behind the Safari Miles restaurant to get rid of his firearm before running into the restaurant.

A young hostess said McQuiller asked if he could use the restroom to clean himself off, but deputies swept in and took him down right in front of her.

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She told Channel 9 he also asked to use the phone to make a call.

“I was really shaken up by it because I have never seen or had to deal with anything like this,” said hostess Imani Batts. “Just a lot of blood everywhere, on his arms and he was just hurting – you could see it and run out of breath pretty much.”

(Emery McQuiller)

Employees and customers inside had no idea that he was a suspect in a shooting nearby.

"There’s a lot of gun violence and it’s just scary and for families to be at this restaurant. It’s not okay,” said Batts.

Deputies said McQuiller suffered a minor injury to his face. No other injuries were reported.

Thursday morning, the owner said he went to court to get a stalking warrant claiming McQuiller sent harrassing text messages.

He said McQuiller called his mother in Florida to warn her that he was "keeping tabs" on her son and even gave her his correct address as proof.

"It's sad that that's the day and age we live in where if you have a problem with a person, yhou can't just talk it out," Lincoln County Sheriff Capt. Matt Lykins said. "We are very fortunate that no innocent bystanders were struck or hit."

Officials said McQuiller is charged with six counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and one count of shooting into occupied property and possession of a firearm by a felon.

He was booked into Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $502,000 secured bond.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.