Armed Salisbury man shot by police after hostages taken during Harris Teeter robbery
By Shavonne Walker
SALISBURY — An armed robber who took hostages at Harris Teeter on Thursday night is in critical condition after being shot by a Salisbury police officer.
Cody Maxwell Schimmels was shot by the officer after he pointed a gun at a hostage, the Salisbury Police Department said Friday.
Police were dispatched to the supermarket, 850 W. Jake Alexander Blvd., about 11:30 p.m. Thursday after a report of an armed robbery.
When officers arrived, they found that a robbery was in progress and the suspect was holding hostages inside the store. Officers made contact with Schimmels, who was armed with a handgun, and tried to persuade him to surrender.
While negotiating with the suspect, he threatened to harm one of the hostages with the handgun, police said. In response, police Sgt. Daniel Lancaster fired one shot from his rifle, striking the suspect.
Schimmels, 30, was immediately given first aid by police officers. Rowan EMS was on the scene for standby and treated the suspect, as well.
All of the hostages were evacuated to safety, police officials said. They included four employees and the spouse of an employee.
There were no injuries to either the hostages or police officers.
Schimmels was taken to Novant Rowan Medical Center and then flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he remains in critical and unstable condition.
Lancaster joined the Salisbury Police Department in 2009 is a member of the special response team. He has been placed on limited desk duty pending the investigation.
The Police Department is investigating the robbery while the State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting to determine whether Lancaster was justified.
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes said at a Friday news conference that he had reviewed body camera footage and has no concerns about the officer’s actions.
“The officers on the scene acted with great bravery and restraint in containing this situation,” Stokes said.
He said his department did not have any prior contact with Schimmels.
No one else was involved in the robbery, Stokes said.
The chief said a trained crisis negotiator was on the scene “who engaged the suspect and acted to keep the situation from escalating out of control even faster than it did.”
“This was a very tense situation that unfolded very quickly, and the officers acted commendably,” Stokes said.
“The things that he was doing — was armed with a handgun, and things that he was doing with the handgun indicated that we needed to take action,” he said.
He said Schimmels was pointing a weapon at one of the hostages when the officer fired.
“Sgt. Lancaster took action to end that threat,” Stokes said.
Stokes did not say where in the store Schimmels was standing when the officer fired, but he said the SBI will examine that matter further.
Stokes said other than robbing the store for money, he does not know why Schimmels chose the Harris Teeter. He said Schimmels wanted to get into the store’s safe.
The ordeal lasted about 30 to 40 minutes.
Stokes did not provide details about who called 911 but said that would be a matter for the SBI to look into.
He said that unfortunately, the city has had recent incidents in which police were in a similar situation.
This is the fourth Salisbury police officer-involved shooting since 2016. The most recent one was in May involving a bank robbery and subsequent chase that ended in Thomasville.
“Each time, those officers have faced those threats very bravely,” Stokes said.
He said he’s not happy that officers have to respond to something like this, but he’s proud of the response to the situation as it unfolded.
Stokes said the officer took a shot at a point where there was a minimum threat to the hostages.
He said a special response team supervisor worked in conjunction with the officer to make a decision about how to handle the situation.
“They made the decision that they had to use force to stop what was going on,” Stokes said.
He was pointing a pistol at someone. He said he doesn’t know specifically what Schimmels may have said during that time, but the threat was made because he was pointing a pistol at the hostage.
The store remained closed much of Friday morning, reopening after 2 p.m.
Erkyah Holtzclaw went to the store Friday morning to find it closed. He told a Post reporter he had heard about the robbery overnight.
“You don’t know what people are going through,” Holtzclaw said.
He said the ordeal was senseless.
“It’s real sad,” he said.
Holtzclaw said he usually shops at the store a few times a week and doesn’t plan to change that routine.
“You can’t walk around society fearful. You just have to live your life and be aware of your surroundings,” Holtzclaw said.
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