Cary hostage situation ends in gunman's death
Posted February 10, 2011 3:39 p.m. EST
Updated February 11, 2011 1:27 p.m. EST
Cary, N.C. — 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."
"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.
"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.