• Police investigate explosion at west Charlotte business

    By: Stephanie Tinoco

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Investigators are on the scene of a small explosion at a west Charlotte business that may be related to a burglary.

    [SLIDESHOW: Chopper 9 photos after an explosion at a west Charlotte business]

    It happened at the front of Collision Warehouse in the 4000 block of Sam Wilson Road.

    Channel 9's Stephanie Tinoco is headed to the scene and will have a live report at 5

    Police said the business owner called to report the damage that apparently happened overnight.

    Pictures from Chopper 9 showed the front door of the business blown in and the metal door frame twisted. An overhead awning had been ripped apart.

    No one was hurt.

    Explosives experts from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Explosives were assisting in the investigation.

    Collision Warehouse is a business Action 9 is very familiar with.

    According to state records, the president, Sterling Gabriel, used to have another body shop at that same address until recently, called Sterling Paint and Body.

    Since 2016, nine customers complained to Action 9 about the business. Six complained to North Carolina's attorney general and 11 complained the Better Business Bureau.

    Customers who had been in wrecks said the body shop gave them the impression they had to use the business for the repair work. They said they eventually found out they did have a choice and could have used other companies.  But, some said, they had to fight with the body shop to get their vehicles back.

    At least three customers called law enforcement to come to the shop to help them recover their cars.  Action 9 was there as police officers responded to one of those calls.

    CMPD said seven people filed police reports involving that address since 2016, having to do with intimidation, assault and vehicle recovery.  However, other body shops also worked out of that address and the reports don't say which business was involved. 

    Action 9 caught up with Gabriel last summer, coming out of court on an unrelated case. 

    He didn't say anything on camera, but during Action 9's investigation, his office manager sent a letter, saying the business did not mislead customers.

    Gabriel currently faces felony charges, including worthless check, obtaining property by false pretenses, and probation violation.

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