CARY, N.C. — A hostage hiding in a North Carolina bank secretly helped police during a standoff with a teenager who was shot dead after slowly emerging from the building holding a gun to the head of one of his captives, authorities said.
The gruesome final scene after three tense hours in the quiet suburban town played out live on television Thursday during the dinner hour. None of the hostages nor any of the officers involved were injured, authorities said.
“This is absolutely not how we wanted this to end,” Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said. “It is a very sad situation that we did end up shooting the suspect.”
The standoff began around 3 p.m. when the man attempted to rob a Wachovia bank on the western edge of Cary, a booming suburb west of Raleigh that prides itself on having little crime. Police arrived within two minutes and found the man had taken hostages.
Authorities said 19-year-old Devon Mitchell of Cary held as many as seven people in the bank and officers were able to negotiate the release of four of them. Two women were released shortly after police arrived, and two more people were released an hour later.
During one of the releases, overhead television footage showed one of the hostages running from the building quickly while the second fell to the ground outside the bank’s door and didn’t move. Officers rushed to her side, helped her up and ran backward while keeping their guns aimed at the building’s door.
Three people remained inside, but Bazemore said Mitchell wasn’t aware of one of them. She said that hostage was relaying information to authorities outside.
As darkness fell, Mitchell slowly walked out of the bank with the woman hostage. Officers swarmed and the suspect fell to the ground amid a cluster of gunshots and smoke. The hostage fell to her knees but was apparently unharmed.
“I’m shaken. I hope I don’t have to see something like that again,” said 16-year-old Zackery Marvel, who watched the dramatic conclusion from an apartment complex nearby.
Cary is consistently ranked as both one of the nation’s safest places to live and one of its fastest-growing. Marvel said he doesn’t feel safe anymore after witnessing the scene unfold near his high school. The bank was not far from the Kids R Kids daycare, where officers helped evacuate about 100 children to safety. Four schools near the bank were also locked down.
Bazemore said the State Bureau of Investigation would be assessing the shooting, as it typically does with all shootings involving law enforcement officers.
“I stand behind our officers and what they did,” Bazemore said.