CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Witnesses to a south Charlotte armed robbery that turned deadly say they experienced terrifying moments when a masked man stormed into the fast food restaurant and began firing.
An employee was left dead, another person was injured, and the suspect was injured after officers were forced to fire at him.
Cell phone video shows the end of the chaotic incident. The apparent suspect in the case is seen on the ground after being injured in the shootout with Pineville police.
“I walked to the car, and he literally was like a hand's distance from me. Walked right past me, gun, I saw it,” witness Megan Walker told FOX 46.
Walker was one of the people who had just placed an order at the Steak ‘N Shake around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. She went out to check on some family. Inside, Kenny Jones says he saw what happened next.
"Looked to my left, seen a masked guy come in, coming from the side, come straight through the front. I went to the bathroom because I didn't know what was going down,” Jones said.
The man entered the restaurant with a gun and shot an employee, identified as Darnell Harris. Family says they believe Harris stepped in to defend his co-workers and the restaurant patrons.
“That's just who he was. He was a great man and a protector, and we will miss him,” cousin Tylar Johnson said on Behalf of the family.
Walker says she began to feel scared after hearing the gunfire.
“I didn't panic until I heard the first gunshot. Then I panicked,” Walker said.
Pineville police were arriving at scene as the shots continued. They were met on scene by the armed suspect, and fired at him.
“I heard multiple shots, people screaming and hollering,” Jones said.
Although Pineville police are the ones that had a shootout with the suspect, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will be pursuing the criminal investigation.
“They thought it was a robbery, but he walked straight into the back for one person,” Walker said.
FOX 46 has been told that video will be an important part of the continuing investigation. Any security video from the Steak ‘N Shake is bound to get a close look. We're told officer body cam video will also be an important part of both the internal affairs and the criminal investigation.