Wells Fargo robbery suspect killed by police; ‘They probably saved a lot of others,’ witness says
By Rebecca Rider and Mark Wineka
SALISBURY — After a vehicle chase, Salisbury police officers shot and killed a suspect in an armed bank robbery early Thursday evening on Jake Alexander Boulevard.
Police Chief Jerry Stokes said the incident began at the Wells Fargo bank at 866 W. Jake Alexander Blvd. Police received word of a bank robbery in progress at 5:04 p.m. While officers were en route, dispatch reported that a bank customer had been shot.
The victim was taken to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police are still putting together the next part of the story.
“This investigation is just starting into this,” Stokes said at an evening news conference. “We are just starting to understand what occurred.”
Stokes said there is a possibility that the suspect stole a getaway vehicle and may have shot the original occupant, but he said he could not confirm that Thursday evening.
According to preliminary information, the suspect was spotted driving a black Acura and was traveling at a high speed near Brenner Avenue, Lincolnton Road and South Fulton Street before turning onto Jake Alexander Boulevard and heading in the direction of the bank.
Police vehicles gave chase, and as the Acura sped through the intersection of Jake Alexander Boulevard and Mooresville Highway, it hit another vehicle in the rear and came to a halt near Jerry’s Shell service station. It was there that shots broke out.
Terry Johnson, who works for Comfort First heating and air conditioning, saw the accident unfold in front of him as his work van was waiting to make a left turn onto Mooresville Highway.
“Then you hear two pops, and the police shot back,” Johnson said. “I would take those two pops as gunshots.”
Johnson said about six police officers converged on the suspect’s vehicle.
According to Stokes, after the crash the suspect either “pointed a gun at officers or fired at officers” and police returned fire. Several officers fired multiple bullets, he said, striking and killing the suspect.
“It’s good they did what they did,” Johnson said, “because they probably saved a lot of others. I’m 50 years old, and I ain’t never seen something like that. It makes you have respect for policemen.”
Johnson gave a written statement to investigators.
This is the third fatal shooting within a week in Salisbury. On Monday, 20-year-old Isaiah Malik Gillespie of Kannapolis was shot and killed outside Laurel Pointe apartments. On Nov. 3, DeShawn Patrick Clark, 30, was shot and killed near Taco Bell. Police have made arrests in both cases,
When asked for his reaction to yet another shooting, Stokes said, “We are very concerned about these occurrences, and we’re working very hard to deal with that issue.”
Stokes said FBI agents are investigating the robbery at Wells Fargo, and the officer-involved shooting investigation had been turned over to the SBI. The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office assisted Salisbury police during the investigation.
Traffic in the area was snarled for several hours Thursday night.
“Further information on this incident will be provided as more facts are known,” a news release by the city read.
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