Cary gunman's last hours become clear
Posted February 11, 2011 12:01 p.m. EST
Updated February 11, 2011 11:30 p.m. EST
“This is Wachovia Bank, and we’re getting robbed, and the guy told me to call police,” a woman says calmly in the call made at 2:58 p.m.
She continues, describing to the dispatcher a black man wearing a purple shirt and red pants – identified later by Cary police as Devon Mitchell, 19 – holding a gun wrapped in a hat up to a female bank employee’s head.
He never asked for any money and never said what he wanted, the caller adds.
“He jumped behind the teller line, and he’s standing behind our teller line,” the caller says. “I’m standing right next to him. He told me to call, and he’s like whispering in her ear.”
Authorities say Mitchell held at least two people at gunpoint for more than three hours Thursday afternoon inside the Wachovia at 10050 Green Level Church Road.
Officers killed Mitchell as he left the bank early Thursday evening, holding a woman with a gun pointed at her head.
No one else was hurt in the situation.
The bank, meanwhile, was closed Friday as authorities continue their investigation to find out more about Mitchell, what happened and why.
Mitchell was a student at Panther Creek High School in Cary from August 2007 until July 2008, when he dropped out, according to the Wake County Public School System.
Friends described him as an artist, a musician and a sports fan who struggled with mental health issues. But he was someone who they never thought would end up in a confrontation with police.
He had been working at a local Bojangles’ and had re-enrolled at Panther Creek in January.
"He had stopped going, then for whatever reason, he got his mind back right and felt like he wanted to go to school,” said a friend who calls himself "Stackz."
Stackz said he had worked out with Mitchell earlier Thursday and that nothing appeared wrong with his friend.
"He wasn't depressed, and if he was depressed, he did a good job of hiding it," he said.
Employees at the Subway near the bank said he stopped there hours before his death.
"I don't recall him buying anything," said Rabih Samara, who was the manager on duty Thursday morning.
"He came in, talked to a couple of regular customers here, and just left. The next thing I hear on the news. It's surreal. I just can't comprehend it."
Hours later, though, according to police, he walked into the Wachovia where, Cary police say, he initially held seven people inside, including one person he did not know was in the bank.
That person was able to provide police with information while a hostage negotiator remained in constant negotiation with Mitchell, Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said.
The first officers arrived at the scene two minutes after the 911 call, she said.
As the situation evolved over the next three hours, he released most of the hostages, and shortly after 6 p.m., he walked outside the bank, where four Cary police officers and a Wake County sheriff’s deputy eventually fired.
Mitchell was fatally wounded.
“The suspect came out of the bank. He was holding one of the hostages when he came out of the bank, and we did engage the suspect with gunfire,” Bazemore told reporters shortly afterward. “This is absolutely not how we wanted this to end.”
Mitchell’s family had no comment Friday.
Cary police declined to comment Friday further about the case but have asked that anyone with information about the crime to contact Cary Crime Stoppers at 919-226-2746.
Panther Creek administrators also declined to comment Friday, but in a letter sent home with students, principal Rodney Nelson called Thursday “difficult” and a “tragic situation (that) causes us to remember all persons impacted by the incident.”
Wells Fargo, the parent company of Wachovia, called employees “brave and courageous” through the ordeal and said counseling services are being offered to those in need.