Police: Legally armed customer shot, killed robbery suspect at North Carolina 7-Eleven

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Police say, legally armed customer shot, killed robbery suspect at North Carolina 7-Eleven

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Police said a 17-year-old was one of two teenagers who tried to rob a gas station early Thursday morning. A customer shot both teens, wounding one and killing the other.

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One of the suspects, Brenna Harris, made his first court appearance Friday after spending two hours in jail., WSOC-TV reported.

A magistrate let Harris out of jail on what is known as a custody release where there is no bond involved as long as his parents come and sign him out of jail.

Judge Matt Osmond was expecting to see Harris on a jail monitor, which is how many defendants appear, but instead he walked in.

"Surprised you're out of jail," Osmond said.

The shooting happened just before 4 a.m. at a Charlotte, N.C., 7-Eleven.

Police said that when they got to the gas station, they found 16-year-old Qwanterrius Stafford inside with a gunshot wound. He was taken to Atrium Health Carolina's Medical Center, where he died.

On Thursday afternoon, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said the shooting started after Stafford and another teenage suspect, Harris, entered the gas station, wearing masks and armed with a gun, and went after a customer in the store, demanding belongings.

Then, the suspects tried to rob the store's clerk.

Officials said the customer felt a deadly threat after one of the teen suspects pointed a gun in his face and robbed him. Police said that customer then fired his own legally carried weapon, hitting both suspects.

"Everybody has to make their own decision on whether their life is in danger or not," CMPD Sgt. Brian Scharf said. "He had a concealed carry permit, was lawfully permitted to carry a firearm inside the store, which is probably why they didn't know he had a weapon."

A short time later, police said they found Harris on Saratoga Drive, which is about two miles away from the gas station.

Officers said his injuries were not serious, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment.

WSOC-TV reporter Gina Esposito said she saw investigators taking pictures at the gas station and putting several people in patrol cars.

Channel 9 was there as CMPD's crime scene truck pulled up and homicide detectives canvassed the building for evidence.

Anchor Genevieve Curtis asked detectives if they were familiar with Harris and Stafford, and they said no, but they believe the pair might be connected to other crimes at which they are now looking.

Officials said Harris was charged as an adult with attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and armed robbery from person.

He was arrested in July on auto theft charges. While those charges were pending, Harris was out on electronic monitoring and according to jail records, he tried to tamper with it by wrapping it in foil and allowing the batteries to die.

Prosecutors ended up dropping the charges because they felt they could not meet the burden of proof.

Police said there are no charges at this time for the customer who fired his gun, but there will be an investigation and it will be sent to the district attorney. They said the investigation will determine if self-defense was justified.

According to CMPD, the store clerk was not injured during the shooting.

"You come to work as a store clerk, doing your job working a hard job at night and to fall victim of a violent situation like this, I can imagine, I'm sure they're really shaken up, at the least," Scharf said.

Harris’ next court date is Aug. 26.