Firefighters lend a hand to police
By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Police officers, with a little help from firefighters, caught a would-be robber coming out of Wendy’s Wednesday night.
In something akin to a TV script, the plot featured a chase and a fight in the middle of East Innes Street. The good guys won.
Around 9:30 p.m., a firefighter at Station 1 ó across the street from Wendy’s ó saw a man walking in with a gun.
He immediately got on the radio and alerted police and other firefighters.
Inside the restaurant, police say, the robber held what appeared to be an automatic weapon to an employee’s head and threatened her.
Police officers patrolling East Innes Street responded so quickly to the report of a robbery in progress, they arrived on the scene before the man got any money. Officer Jeremy Cable who was on patrol in the area, arrived in seconds.
Deputy Chief Steve Whitley said the gunman, later identified as Steven Michael Jones Jr. , saw the patrol car arrive and ran from the restaurant.
Cable commanded the robber to drop his gun. But police say Jones pointed his pistol toward Cable and then attempted to run across East Innes ó one of the busiest streets in town.
Jones slipped on the rain-slick street, fell and dropped the gun.
Cable continued the pursuit as several firefighters watched.
Whitley said the officer holstered his gun and tackled Jones near an insurance office adjacent to the fire station.
“It was a hand-to-hand fight,” Whitley said.
At that point, firefighters decided to help and quickly put an end to the fight.
“They sat on him … until help arrived,” Whitley said.
At that point, police got a close look at the robber’s pistol. It turned out to be a pellet gun made to look like an automatic weapon.
Steven Michael Jones Jr., 20, of the streets of Salisbury, is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault on a government official, injury to personal property, kidnapping and assault by pointing a gun. He was in the Rowan County jail Thursday with bond set at $125,000.
And it wasn’t an accident that police were in the immediate area.
Whitley said police analyze data and chart the time when incidents happen. “It’s a logical approach to address the problems,” he said.
The East Innes Street area is one police saturate with multiple units at key times.
“Sgt. Lee Walker and his officer did a great job. The firefighters were great,” Whitley said. He praised Cable, a rookie officer, for using his training.
The events happened so quickly other officers arrived about the time Jones was taken into custody.
Whitley said the incident could have been deadly for Jones. Police had no way of knowing the handgun he carried was a pellet gun.