Local News

'Blazing guns' wound two in Franklin County shoot-out

Posted April 24, 2009 5:02 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2009 11:11 p.m. EDT

— Gunmen dressed as police officers burst into a house in the Pilot community in southern Franklin County, sparking a shoot-out that injured two people late Wednesday, authorities said.

Investigators said that a man was standing on the front porch of a house in the 8300 block of N.C. Highway 39 making a personal call on a cell phone around 9 p.m. when two gunmen approached him.

"One had a police hat on, handcuffs and a badge, dressed in dark clothing," said Capt. Tim Strickland, with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The gunmen held the man at gunpoint and then burst into the house, planning to rob those inside, investigators said.

"It's just like the old saying 'Guns blazing.' That's how they went inside," Strickland.

A surveillance camera over the front door, though, had already alerted those inside the house that gunmen were outside.

"The patrons on the inside can actually see what's going on on the outside, so they knew they were getting robbed," Strickland said. "Once the door flew open, one of the robbers screamed, 'This is a robbery.' One of the patrons said, 'No, it's not,' and they started exchanging gunfire."

One of the robbers was shot in the shoulder during the shoot-out, and the surveillance video shows the gunmen quickly running out of the house soon after they entered it.

They chased down one man in the parking lot and shot him in the buttocks, Strickland said. Authorities believe the gunmen made off with about $2,000 from that victim.

The victim was treated and released from at a hospital. Investigators contacted local hospitals, but none reported treating any other patients with gunshot wounds.

Investigators said that poker games might have been going on at the house. Tables were set up in the house when deputies arrived, but no cards or money were present.

"It's pretty secluded. We don't even know how they found out about the place," Strickland said.

Investigators said that they are treating the property owners as victims and that their priority is identifying gunmen posing as cops.

"This probably wasn't their first trip. These guys are dangerous. They're not afraid of firing a weapon," Strickland said.