Belmont, NC Drug Store Standoff Ends Peacefully

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In a story that should be hailed as a shining example of two police departments working together towards a nonviolent goal, the Charlotte Observer reports a six-hour standoff between a lone gunman and law enforcement came to a peaceful end.

The suspect, 46-year-old Edward Scott Russ, was taken into police custody around 7 a.m. this morning, nearly six hours after he barged into a CVS on Wilkinson Blvd. and took several hostages. Over the next few hours, witnesses indicated that Russ took several pills from the pharmacy. Even more remarkably, two law enforcement agencies arrived simultaneously, and worked together: Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Gastonia Police Department's SWAT Unit.

Police Chief Charlie Franklin said to reporters that the police were called almost immediately as the suspect entered the store at 2 a.m. with a 7.62x39 caliber SKS, a semi-automatic assault rifle. When the police arrived, they instructed him to put the weapon down; instead, he fired at them. The police initially fired back, but immediately retreated as soon as they realized there were civilian hostages.

A police negotiator was called in, and over the next two hours, three hostages (two male, one female) were released uninjured. The last remaining hostage, a male, was released around 4 a.m. The suspect laid down his rifle and walked out the front door with his hands up. The chief noted that the suspect "appeared apologetic" and said he was sorry.

NBC News reporter Glenn Counts noted some specific details from a parking lot a couple blocks from the CVS: apparently, a CVS customer called the police so early in the incident that the cops arrived before any kind of verbal exchange could occur between Russ and the hostages.

Counts also noted that, since Russ was carrying 7.62x39, typical law enforcement Kevlar would have failed to protect them from his rifle in the event of the police storming the store.

You can check out that report here:

[Image via an NBC news report on YouTube]

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