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North Carolina hostage standoff ends with surrender and a 'sorry'

Law EnforcementCrime, Law and JusticeAssaultCrimeTheft

A gunman surrendered to police inside a North Carolina pharmacy Friday morning after holding three employees hostages, firing on police and stealing drugs during an early morning robbery attempt, according to police in Belmont, N.C., just west of Charlotte.

The 46-year-old gunman laid a SKS rifle on a store counter at about 7 a.m. and surrendered several hours after entering the store and taking two men and a woman hostage. The hostages were not harmed, police said.

[Updated, 11:35 a.m. PST, Oct. 25: Edward Scott Russ, 46, of Gastonia, N.C., was charged Friday with kidnapping, assault on law enforcement officers, attempted first-degree murder, communicating threats and robbery with a dangerous weapon, police said.]

Authorities were called to a CVS pharmacy at about 1:45 a.m. to investigate reports of an armed robbery attempt. The suspect fired three to five times at officers, who returned fire before they realized the man had taken hostages, police Sgt. John F. Wilson in Belmont, population 10,000, said in a telephone interview.

"He started screaming that he had hostages," Belmont Police Chief Charlie Franklin told reporters. Franklin said the suspect told the hostages they would not be harmed if they followed his instructions.

The officers retreated and a hostage negotiator was brought to talk to the suspect. He released all three hostages by about 4 a.m., police said. Three hours later, he was persuaded to surrender.

Police were able to monitor the man via the store’s security video system, police said. They watched him swallow several prescription pills he had taken from the store pharmacy.

The suspect "appeared apologetic" and "stated he was sorry," Franklin told reporters.

Russ has a record of misdemeanor arrests, Wilson said.

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