Belmont, NC: Gunman Arrested After Holding Hostages at Drugstore

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 02:20 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A Belmont, N.C., gunman has surrendered to authorities after holding three employees hostage for several hours in a CVS drugstore early Friday morning after a failed robbery attempt.

The suspect, 46-year-old Edward Scott Russ, released the three hostages at approximately 4 a.m. Friday before surrendering three hours later to police, The Associated Press reported.

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Russ, who was reportedly armed with an SKS semi-automatic long rifle and several magazines, will be facing felony charges, Belmont Police Sergeant John Wilson told reporters.

Prior to Russ' surrender to the SWAT team, two officers exchanged gunfire with the gunman before they were aware he had hostages in the drug store.

"He started screaming that he had hostages," Police Chief Charlie Franklin told the AP.

"He told [the] hostages he would not harm them, if they just did what he told them," Franklin added, noting that the three employees, two men and one woman, emerged from the incident unharmed.

According to Franklin, authorities were able to monitor Russ' actions through closed-circuit television cameras located throughout the drugstore during the hostage negotiation.

"It gave us insight into what area of the store he was in and what state of mind he was in," Franklin added.

According to police at the scene, in the video Russ was seen swallowing several prescription pills from the pharmacy during the hostage negotiation. Police did not say what medications Russ ingested.

In an interview with WBTV's Kristen Hampton following the robbery attempt, Russ' mother described her son's actions as very out of character and couldn't explain what happened to trigger the robbery.

In response to the incident, CVS Pharmacy released a statement to WBTV on Friday that read, "We are pleased to confirm that none of our employees were harmed during the incident in Belmont and we want to thank law enforcement in Charlotte and Belmont for their quick response and resolution."

CVS could not say when the pharmacy would be reopened.

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