Durham police shoot, kill man attacking Circle K clerk
Posted January 12, 2022 5:14 a.m. EST
Updated January 13, 2022 8:10 a.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — A man was shot and killed by Durham police Wednesday morning when he attacked a convenience store clerk, officials say.
During a press conference, Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews said officers responded to a report of a suicide at the Circle K at 109 N.C. Highway 54, near Fayetteville Road, before 3:30 a.m.
The officers were told that a man was cutting himself inside the store, but when they arrived, the front door of the Circle K was locked, and they saw a man "violently attacking" the store clerk with a sharp weapon, Andrews said.
Officers forced themselves inside and fired shots at the man, who died. The store clerk was badly injured and taken to a local hospital, and officers were treated for minor injuries at the scene.
The name of the man who died will be released once family members are notified. On Thursday morning, some yellow tape was still up around the building, although the Circle K was open for business.
Officers involved in the fatal shooting have been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.
“My staff and I are always saddened by any loss of life. We will continue to keep our officers and the store clerk in our thoughts and offer condolences to the family of the man that has died,” said Andrews.
At 9 a.m., crime scene tape still surrounded the entire parking lot and the adjacent shopping center, which holds Shiki Sushi and a Great Clips.
An ambulance was at the scene along with more than 12 police cars.
The front door of the Circle K store was shattered, according to WRAL reporter Brett Knese, and a body was visible near the doorway.
This is not the first time there's been a violent incident in this neighborhood, according to Steve Calender, who lives nearby.
“There have been stores that have been held up in this neighborhood before. It’s not the first time. There’s a Circle K down Fayetteville Road that has been held up before," he said.
Calendar says he heard gunshots at 3:30 a.m., but went back to sleep.
"I wasn’t aware that there was really anything strange going on until I heard all of these helicopters. I live about a quarter mile that way so all these helicopters were going over my house," he said.
Jared Wallace, another person who lives nearby, says the violent instance doesn't surprise him because it's happened before.
"You’re just always alert at a gas station just because of these incidents. You hear about them every time you go to public area like this," he said. "You have to be with your head on a swivel and pay attention."
Second officer-involved shooting in the Triangle in less than 24 hours
Police Chief Andrews said the Durham Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation are both investigating the incident. She did not know how many shots were fired or where the assailant was struck.
This is the second officer-involved shooting in the Triangle in less than 24 hours. A man holding a knife near a small child was shot by police in Raleigh on Tuesday afternoon after a serious crash on I-440.
People living in the surrounding area said they feel the police could benefit from more training to help decrease instances of officer-involved shootings.
"I mean there’s a lot of incidents where police officers they get really scared easily. It just doesn’t seem like they’re properly trained to handle serious situations like this. That’s just really a tragedy. Because we’re supposed to depend on police officers," said Wallace.
Osmin Castro, who also lives nearby, said he still believes police still play a major role in protecting public safety, but would benefit from de-escalation strategies.
"You have to have something to trust. There’s danger out there. Still having the cops is really important," he said. "I think the de-escalation is like a major priority, but cops are human too. They feel like that shock."
Tru Pettigrew, who has brought police and residents together for dialogue at Triangle barbershops, said having an open dialogue between police and the community starts with a willingness to be honest.
"We have to accept and address the biasness that we all have in an effort to ensure we are leveraging our collect experiences," said Pettigrew.
Pettigrew said police and residents must be willing to talk with each other about their perspectives and the uncomfortable topics.
"It has to be all stake holders involved," he said. "The police are part of the community [and] the community members are a part. We all are parrt of the community [and] we all have a role to play."
After the talks, Pettigrew said there must be follow-ups to ensure responsibility is being taken by all parties involved.
"I would challenge them to establish accountability relationships with each other and the other institutions that impact the outcomes we are seeing," said Pettigrew.