Salisbury man in jail for July Harris Teeter robbery, hostage situation

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2018

SALISBURY — A Salisbury man is out of the hospital and in a jail cell two months after local authorities say he went into Harris Teeter armed with a gun with the intent to rob the grocery store just before closing time.

Cody Maxwell Schimmels, 30, is charged Thursday with felony attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and five counts of felony kidnapping. Authorities say he held store employees hostage inside the store during the robbery.

Schimmels is in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $750,000 secured bond.

An arrest warrant said Schimmels tried to take more than $1,100 from the store, located at 850 W. Jake Alexander Blvd., on July 12. The warrant said at the time of the robbery, one woman and four men were inside the store. Salisbury Police Department officials said at a news conference after the incident that four of those people were employees and one was the spouse of an employee.

According to a search warrant submitted by Special Agent G.C. Templeton of the State Bureau of Investigation and filed in July, officers searched a Mitsubishi Endeavor. Schimmels drove that vehicle to the store, the warrant said.

Schimmels arrived at 11:20 p.m. armed with a handgun. Surveillance cameras inside the store captured him on video, the warrant said.

“Schimmels approached Harris Teeter employees inside the store, pointing the handgun at them, and stated he was robbing the store,” the warrant said.

Store video shows Schimmels wore gloves, a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, sunglasses and a bandanna to disguise himself. He ordered employees to open the store safe, but they were not authorized or able to do so, the warrant said.

Schimmels attempted to “make arrangements to get into the safe over a period of time but was never able to enter the safe,” according to the warrant.

The hostages told police that Schimmels threatened violence because they were not cooperating during the robbery.

A police crisis negotiator tried to persuade Schimmels to surrender a hostage as a sign of cooperation. At 12:04 a.m., Schimmels walked an employee to the entrance of the store at gunpoint. He and the hostage exited the first set of doors and remained in the lobby, where shopping carts and exit doors are located.

Schimmels kept the hostage in the lobby area on the side where a mechanical children’s ride is located. The warrant said Schimmels was in the area for about five minutes before a Salisbury police officer fired one shot, “disabling Schimmels and freeing the hostage.”

Police Chief Jerry Stokes said in July that Sgt. Daniel Lancaster, a member of the department’s special response team, was the officer who fired his department-issued rifle, striking Schimmels. Salisbury police and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office officers went in the store to free the remaining hostages and secure the scene.

Schimmels was given first aid by police officers and a Rowan EMS crew. All of the hostages were evacuated, and none was injured.

Schimmels was taken to Novant Rowan Medical Center and then airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he remained until Thursday.

After the shooting, officers canvassed the area and found the Mitsubishi behind Planet Fitness near the grocery store. The car belonged to a woman that court records confirmed is Schimmels’ wife. Authorities seized a wallet that belonged to Schimmels along with bank cards, a car key, paperwork, a pair of gray and yellow bodyguard gloves, and a black toboggan.

Officer Lancaster is on desk duty pending the investigation by the SBI. The Salisbury Police Department is investigating the robbery, and the SBI is working to determine whether the shooting was justified.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.