Cary, N.C. — A Cary man who took hostages at a bank Thursday did not have a gun, Police Chief Pat Bazemore said Sunday.
Authorities say that Devon Mitchell, 19, held seven people hostage at a Wachovia bank on Green Level Road for three hours Thursday. Officers shot and killed Mitchell when he left the bank, holding what appeared to be a gun to the head of a woman.
"Despite what the original 911 call reported, despite what he said to the hostages, despite what he told our hostage negotiator, despite what we all thought we saw when he came out of the bank with something pointed at one of the hostage’s heads, we now know there was no gun," she said.
Mitchell concealed an object in a knit hat and evidently wanted people to believe that he had a gun, Bazemore said. When he left the bank, that concealed object was pointed at the head of a hostage.
"From the beginning it was reported he had a gun, he told the hostages he had a gun, and the hostages believed that he had a gun," she said. "He indicated to the hostage negotiator that he had a gun, and his actions throughout the entire ordeal indicated that he had a gun. He did not."
Mitchell's motivations are unclear, but it appears that he was "troubled," based on interviews, Bazemore said.
"Why Devon set this all in motion, why he wanted us all to believe that he had a weapon and that he was prepared to kill with it are questions that we will never have the answers to. But it’s clear that's what Devon wanted us to believe," she said.
Friends described Mitchell as an artist, musician and sports fan who struggled with mental health issues. He dropped out of Panther Creek High School in 2008 but had recently re-enrolled and worked at a Bojangles'.
"If we can take away anything from this terrible tragedy, it’s that we all have an obligation to look out for each other, and we have an obligation to do something when we see someone in trouble," Bazemore said.
"We all have to ask ourselves if someone could have done something that would have made a difference in that young man’s life," she added.
She urged people to take advantage of mental health resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis HopeLine and Wake County Mental Health services.
Bazemore emphasized that she believed that officers acted correctly based on the information they had.
"This information does not change that our officers did exactly what they were trained to do and what they were expected to do in this situation," she said. "I am confident that the investigation into this incident will bear this out."
It was the first fatal officer-involved shooting in the history of the Cary Police Department, she said.
She identified five law enforcement agents who discharged their weapons: a Wake County sheriff's deputy, Brad Manville, and Cary Senior Police Officer Ricky Burch, 45, Sgt. Rick Glancy, 42, Senior Police Officer Irvin Leggett, 42, and Master Police Officer Chris Redig, 31.
Burch joined the department in 1999, Glancy in 1993, Leggett in 1998, and Redig in 2007. All four are assigned to the police field operations bureau.
The officers have been placed on administrative duty until the investigation into the shooting is complete, which is standard procedure whenever an officer discharges a weapon.