Local News

Walmart bra-theft suspect didn't deserve to be shot, family says

Posted September 27
Updated September 28

— More than one week after a woman shot a larceny suspect at her CPA firm after stealing 10 bras from a nearby Walmart, the man's family is demanding she be charged.

Authorities were called to the Walmart at 7106 Knightdale Boulevard on September 18 for a reported larceny when the suspect fled from the store on foot.

Officers chased the man, identified as Deandre Branch, 24, of Clayton, into C.H. Wells, CPA office building at 7048 Knightdale Blvd.

Once there, Branch forced his way inside the two-story building, which houses multiple businesses, and encountered 54-year-old Connie Wells inside the building.

Police are not releasing details about the encounter, but the incident left Branch with a single gunshot wound.

Deandre Branch

Wells, the owner of the business and a concealed handgun permitee, was working alone when the incident occurred.

Branch had a criminal history, including an assault charge against a woman. He is also on probation fora drug charge.

Attorney: Woman who shot Walmart bra-theft suspect acted in self-defense

But Willie Mitchener, Branch's stepfather, said he believes something doesn't add up, and despite what he did, Branch should not be in this hospital.

"Seems like the more I learned about the whole situation, the madder I got" Mitchener said.

He said Branch, the father of a 4-year-old and 2-year-old, is still in the hospital and hoping to walk again.

"He is starting to gain a lot of his own body strength," he said.

Mitchener said he and his wife were just minutes away from the scene when they got the call.

"We were actually in Bible study that Monday night, and for us not even know, it was less than five minutes from where we were," he said.

Mitchener does not believes Branch was a threat to Wells.

"You're holding a firearm, so where is the danger at when, you know, you don't see a weapon on him, so you feel like you would have the upper hand anyway," Mitchener said. "But more or less you didn't give him a chance to respond anyway. This is a scared kid looking to hide somewhere."

Mitchener described Branch as nonconfrontational, and he wants Wells to be held accountable for the shooting.

"His life has been dramatically altered, while she still has the choice to go do whatever she wants to do," he said.

The case is being investigated by the Wake County District Attorney.

WRAL reached out to the Knightdale Police Department Wednesday, and a spokesperson said a joint statement will eventually be released with the DA. Reporters also reached out the attorney representing Wells and have not heard back.

43 Comments

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  • Glen Bradley Sep 29, 11:26 a.m.
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    Baloney sausage. In 2011 the NC General Assembly enacted Castle Doctrine in this State. You no longer have a duty to retreat in your own home, vehicle, or place of business, and you have the full right and authority to terminate ANY unlawful entry with deadly force. There is NO requirement to be under direct physical assault.

    About the only way Castle Doctrine does not apply, would be if the person who got shot was evidently attempting to terminate their own unlawful entry by leaving the premises and got shot out of revenge.

    Prior to 2011, what you describe may have been vaguely accurate, but your information is at least 6 years out of date.

  • Debbie Norris Sep 29, 9:09 a.m.
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    I wouldn't give him a second chance to "respond" either (as headline here read). He chose his own fate and she acted accordingly. I guess the step-father would have defended him just as much had he had a gun and killed this lady. WOW! I would have shot him as well but I would have aimed at at a different body part.

  • William Sherman Sep 28, 11:07 p.m.
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    Well dude--the lady in question was working alone in a locked building---the perpetrator physically broke down the door and entered the building while fleeing the cops. He ran toward the lady and did not stop his forward movement toward her. She feared for her life pure and simple. Under those circumstances, I would have shot the guy also. With apologies to his parents, his conduct was one of aggression and worthy of defensive measures.

  • William Jones Sep 28, 2:55 p.m.
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    Being a concealed carry permit holder has very little to do with it. As she was in her workplace she had every right to have a firearm available. Also forced entry is considered a threat and justifies deadly force. Yes, there are things that could change that, such as he was fleeing, and yes we should wait to see how it all works out, just as the step-father should.

  • James Freeman Sep 28, 10:42 a.m.
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    just another typical 'he a gut boy, he dindu nuttin'

  • Crystal Czeck Sep 28, 10:38 a.m.
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    Well, hopefully he won't be be stupid enough to steal again.Or at the very least, force your way into a building that you have no business in, because you're running away from the scene of a theft you committed. I don't feel bad for him, one bit.

    I do like how WRAL put up a heart-warming photo of him, though. As if that can just erase the way that he has a prior criminal history, and that he was committing a crime when the shooting happened.

  • Matt Wood Sep 28, 10:29 a.m.
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    Something EVERY SINGLE COMMENTER on this post is missing is that the shooter was a concealed carry permit holder. They teach you in that class that you CANNOT shoot someone, even in your own home, unless they have threatened you first. We'll have to wait and see if any security footage comes out to prove that's what happened. If he tried to leave and she shot him, she deserves to go to jail.

  • Elisa Barnes Sep 28, 10:25 a.m.
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    And THIS is the problem- parents excusing away bad behavior, and finding someone else to blame. They should be thanking the woman for showing some restraint, and only wounding him. This kid has never had to own his choices, I'm guessing, because Mom and Dad have never asked him to. Absolutely incredible!

  • Cathy Blackman Sep 28, 9:54 a.m.
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    Let a stranger walk in your house/business, and you know they are not your client. What would you do stupid? The boy was wrong, admit it and try to direct him to a better path in life.

  • Larry Wiandt Sep 28, 8:53 a.m.
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    So this guy forces his way into an office after hours that was undoubtedly locked. What would you expect her to do?? Given his history, if he survives, I'd say he should get life in prison. Maybe his family should encourage him to not be a drug addict and a repeat criminal. No sympathy for this guy!

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