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Cary hostage situation ends in gunman's death

Posted February 10, 2011
Updated February 11, 2011

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— The man shot by police after a standoff at a Cary bank was a troubled student who, friends said, had struggled with mental health issues.

Still, there was no indication that Devon Mitchell, 19, who lived in the 900 block of Pony Club Circle, was headed for a deadly confrontation with police.

Mitchell held at least two people at gunpoint for more than two hours Thursday afternoon inside the Wachovia at 10050 Green Level Church Road, police said.

When Mitchell left the bank, dragging a woman with a gun pointed at her head, police fired, killing him.

"The suspect came out of the bank with the hostage. He had a gun to the hostage's head," said Pat Bazemore, Cary chief of police.

"This is absolutely not how we wanted this to end." 

The man Mitchell joined for a daily workout said Thursday began like any other day. "He wasn't depressed, and if he was depressed, he did a good job of hiding it," said the man, who goes by "Stackz."

Friends of Devon Mitchell. Friends: Gunman was troubled, turning life around

"Every time he was out here with us, he was jolly, talking about going to work, talking about going to school. He never seemed like he was down and out."

Stackz said his friend was a senior at Panther Creek High School and worked at a Bojangles restaurant.

"He just started going back to school last week," Stackz said. "He had stopped going, then for whatever reason, he got his mind back right and felt like he wanted to go to school."

Other friends in the apartment complex where Mitchell lived described him as an artist, a musician and a sports fan. 

Neighborhood held hostage

Police responded to a report of an armed robbery at the bank just after 3 p.m., Bazemore said.

Law enforcement officers flooded the area, closing roads, restricting traffic and locking down area schools. They asked residents of the nearby Courtney Reserve Cary Park Apartments to remain indoors. 

Police activity locks down Cary neighborhood Police activity locks down Cary neighborhood

"It was intense. It was scary. Anything could have happened," said Kyle Fiske who watched the standoff from this window.

Students from Alston Ridge Elementary, Mills Park Middle School, Mills Park Elementary School and Panther Creek High School were allowed to leave just before 5 p.m. School officials called parents to pick up students who would usually walk home from school. 

An employee at Kids R Kids day care, at 7580 Carpenter Fire Station Road, said about 120 people, most of them children, were inside the facility when police arrived. Those people were moved to Crosspointe Church just before 5 p.m. where worried parents reunited with their children. 

"We were nervous, but we were safe," said Tiffany Polin, an employee of a Subway near the bank. "I'm glad the police came, handled everything and got it squared away."

Bazemore said Mitchell initially held seven people, five of them bank employees, inside. As the situation evolved, he released some of them. One hostage was able to contact police while inside the bank and shared helpful information with officers, Bazemore said.

No one other than the gunman was injured. "All the hostages are safe, all of our officers are safe," she said.

Wells Fargo, the parent company of Wachovia, issued this statement after the incident:

We are thankful that all of the customers and our team members present during this incident are safe. They were remarkably brave and courageous throughout this ordeal.

We plan to offer support for our team members by providing counseling services.
The safety and security of our team members and customers is a top priority for Wachovia Wells Fargo. We will continue to work very closely with law enforcement officials as they conduct their investigation.

As police and the State Bureau of Investigation try to determine exactly what happened and why, they asked that anyone with information about crime contact Cary Crime Stoppers at 919-226-2746. Crime Stoppers pays up to $2,500 for information and calls are kept confidential.
 

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  • chenliliu3 Feb 11, 2011

    I just read on the N&O website that Panther Creek High School allowed this man who was 19, almost 20 years old, to re-enroll as a 9TH grader in January.

    A 9th grader? What kind of school allows someone who will be turning 20 in a couple of months to enroll as a 9TH grader in classes of 13 year olds??

  • conservatism lives Feb 11, 2011

    have you read the report mom? do you know firsthand this? no...im just telling you politely that there were 5 shooters. the video does not show who shot...

  • m24s Feb 11, 2011

    not sure what was wrong with my last comment but here we go again

    fvusaf1204 - yes it does show where the shots came from in the video. one shooter.

  • conservatism lives Feb 11, 2011

    My heart goes out to the hostage...she is the one who will now no doubt need counseling and mental help herself. Good luck to her.

  • chenliliu3 Feb 11, 2011

    This is not an issue about color. I know that Cary Police would have done their job to save the hostages no matter what color the shooter was.

    And, if those hostages were your mother, sister, or daughter, you'd be grateful they did.

  • conservatism lives Feb 11, 2011

    "Will everyone PLEASE stop saying this guy was killed by a police SNIPER? He wasn't.

    Have you seen the video? He was shot by a cop who was approaching him from about 30 feet to his left. You can clearly see the muzzle flash when he fires the shot. He was not shot by a sniper."

    not sure how you know this...but let me tell you he was not shot by just one person and a sniper could have been involved...

  • conservatism lives Feb 11, 2011

    mom24state-there were multiple officers involved...the video does not show who shot, does it?

  • RM24 Feb 11, 2011

    [Sadly though, I think this is another example of the failure of our mental health system and its ability to help people like this.]And as long as everyone feels this way and the person(s) are never held accountable this will never stop. Before we know it people will be filing lawsuits because "someone" should have given him medicine.

  • RM24 Feb 11, 2011

    chenliliu3: This apartment complex the shooter lived in is full of gang and drug activity. And, it's right smack in a nice residential upscale neighborhood.

    I cant imagine in Wake Co there is any mixing of poverty or color in the same neighborhoods. How can this be if they are busing kids for diversity? So you mean the neighborhoods of Wake Co are diverse? I just cant imagine it with all the publicity the Wake Co school board is getting?

  • RM24 Feb 11, 2011

    dear police: thank you for doing what needed to be done to keep innocent people safe. I appreciate what you did. Thank you. ambergail1 GOLO member since September 23, 2007 chenliliu3

    I will also agree with this post!

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