Salisbury man who took hostages during 2018 Harris Teeter robbery to serve over 17 years in prison

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 1, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — A Salisbury man who took Harris Teeter employees hostage after a July 2018 armed robbery was sentenced on Thursday to 17 to 23.5 years in prison.

Cody Maxwell Schimmels, 32, pleaded guilty to five counts of felony first-degree kidnapping and one count of felony attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes said on July 12, 2018, Schimmels went into the store, located at 850 W. Jake Alexander Blvd., just before closing armed with a handgun.

During the robbery, one woman and four men were inside the store, one of whom was the spouse of an employee.

Store surveillance cameras captured Schimmels on video wearing gloves, a hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, sunglasses and a bandanna, as he approached an employee inside the store and pointed the gun at the employee.

A search warrant released shortly after the incident said Schimmels ordered the employees to open the store safe, but they were not authorized or able to do so. He was never able to enter the safe.

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. Just after midnight, police said, Schimmels walked an employee to the entrance of the store at gunpoint. Schimmels kept the hostage in the lobby area before a Salisbury police officer fired one shot, “disabling Schimmels and freeing the hostage,” Stokes said at the time.

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 into 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. No hostages were injured, police said.

Schimmels was taken to the hospital and was released into police custody two months after the robbery.