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New Waffle House takes a bite out of crime

SALISBURY — After he felt the barrel hit him in the back, Rick McCombs swung around and stood face-to-face with the gunman Thanksgiving night.
“Give me what you got or I’m going to ******* kill you,” he recalled the man saying.
The gunman apparently hadn’t noticed the slew of cops eating across Innes Street at the new Waffle House.
McCombs, owner of Sidewalk Deli, said he stopped at the Wilco-Hess about 7:30 p.m. so he wouldn’t have to fill up the following morning. He parked at the pump closest to the door.
But the proximity didn’t deter the man.
McCombs said he acted instinctively, throwing his hands up and startling the robber. The move caught the attention of a passing security officer.
“I said, ‘That guy’s got a gun and he just tried to rob me,’ ” McCombs said Friday. “So he took off. Not 30 seconds later the entire Waffle House lit up with blue lights — ‘cause evidently all the deputies from the Sheriff’s Office were over there having dinner. They heard it come through the Salisbury Police Department and they decided to respond. It was just a caravan of blue. The whole sky lit up with blue.”
McCombs said Salisbury Police and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office deputies corralled the gunman in a parking lot near a nearby EMS station.
Authorities later identified the man as 31-year-old Eric Dante Jones, of West Lafayette Street. He was charged with felony attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and placed under a $50,000 bond.
Officers also found the handgun to be a BB pistol, the arrest warrant said.
The incident could be viewed as one of the first tests for the new Waffle House, which garnered support and criticism from residents over the 24-hour eatery.
McCombs said the new business did what he thought it would — give the area a better police presence.
“It all went down in like 10 minutes. The thing that took the longest was waiting for them to come take my statement,” McCombs said. “Kudos to them. I love it when a good thing works. I knew everybody was all (upset) about that Waffle House going in, but I’ve said all along there were going to be cops eating there and that’s the best thing they could do for that neighborhood was to put that Waffle House in there. It’s like putting in a substation. It’s just not my kind of subs.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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