SALISBURY, N.C. — Salisbury police said the armed robbery suspect who was shot at a Harris Teeter on West Jake Alexander Boulevard in July has been released from the hospital and charged.
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes said when police arrived at the scene, officers encountered a suspect, identified as 30-year-old Cody Maxwell Schimmels, a Salisbury resident, who had taken four employees and a spouse hostage.
Officers attempted to negotiate with the suspect. During the negotiation, the suspect threatened to harm one of the hostages, according to Stokes.
Stokes said the suspect was holding a gun on one of the hostages when an officer fired a single shot, striking the man.
Stokes identified the officer as Sgt. Daniel Lancaster, a specially trained officer who used a .308-caliber sniper rifle to strike the suspect. Lancaster has been with the Salisbury Police Department since 2009.
Stokes said he believes Lancaster did the right thing based on the suspect's behavior.
“He's been a member of our special response team who trained a lot in responding to this type of incident,” Stokes said. “So, we were very fortunate to have him on the scene very quickly.”
A police negotiator told us there are three keys in any hostage situation: containment, communication and control.
Police didn’t tell Channel 9 the exact location or distance the sharpshooter took his single shot, but the angle of the bullet hole in the shattered glass indicates the police bullet was fired from the side of the Harris Teeter parking lot.
Officers then entered the store and evacuated the hostages, while another officer and EMS began to administer aid to the suspect, according to Stokes.
Officers said Schimmels was armed with a pistol when he was shot.
“While I'm not happy that we had to do this, I'm certainly proud of our response to the situation as it was unfolding,” Stokes said.
No hostages or officers were injured in the incident, according to Stokes.
Schimmels was taken to Novant Rowan and transported by helicopter to North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, where he was treated for his injuries.
Salisbury police said Schimmels was released from Wake Forest Baptist Hospital on Friday, Sept. 14.
Schimmels was charged with five counts of first degree kidnapping and one count of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.
He is being held at the Rowan County Detention Center under a $750,000 secured bond.
The State Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate whether the officer-involved shooting was justified.
Stokes said he has reviewed body camera video from the incident and has no concerns about the officer's actions.
Lancaster has been placed on limited duty, which is standard procedure, while the SBI investigates.
It is unknown at this time whether Schimmels had any relation with the employees.
Harris Teeter's communication manager, Danna Robinson, released a statement when the incident happened saying the company would have support teams available for anyone involved.
"We are relieved and grateful that all of our valued associates and one customer involved at the Salisbury Harris Teeter are safe and unharmed. Our associates remained calm and courageous through the ordeal, aiding law enforcement’s response. The entire Harris Teeter family thanks the Salisbury Police, Rowan EMS and other safety personnel for their speedy response to ensure our safety.
We have support teams available to everyone involved, and we will continue to assist law enforcement in their investigation. We ask for the community’s patience as we work with the proper authorities to re-open the store for business."
Harris Teeter contractors cleaned up the crime scene and the store reopened.
Neighbors told Channel 9 they’re concerned about violent crime in the area.
Eric Snyder recalled another incident in November right across from the grocery store.
Police said someone robbed the Wells Fargo on Jake Alexander Boulevard, shot innocent people, then led police on a chase.
“It’s scary, right up in this area, because I don’t live that far from here,” Snyder said.
Residents said they would like to see a larger police presence in the area.
The chief didn’t specifically address whether the department would add more patrols, but he said officers are constantly monitoring crime trends to see if resources need to be shifted.
We're told Lancaster has not spoken with any of hostages, but Stokes deemed him a hero.
The State Bureau of Investigations is reviewing store surveillance and body camera video.
Rowan County's district attorney will need to confirm this was a valid use of force.
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