The Roanoke Times | Friday, April 25, 2014
Authorities are looking for a suspect who shot a Schewels employee in the parking lot of the Roanoke furniture store Thursday morning before getting away with a bank bag believed to contain money.
Police spokesman Scott Leamon said the man was struck by gunfire multiple times about 10 a.m. before being taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Leamon said the victim’s condition Thursday morning was described as serious but had been upgraded to stable by the evening. Police have not publicly identified the victim.
Investigators believe the assailant fired at the man while he was in a pickup truck outside Schewels Furniture Co. in the 3600 block of Ferncliff Avenue Northwest, causing the victim to either fall or jump out of the truck.
“The suspect approached the pickup truck from the passenger side, tried to open the passenger side door but found it locked, and then fired multiple rounds into the vehicle,” Leamon said.
The vehicle kept rolling backward, causing damage to several parked cars and striking a shopping cart corral before coming to rest roughly a football field in length away in the adjacent Home Depot parking lot.
Leamon said the suspect is believed to have run northwest on Ferncliff Avenue after the shooting. Officers combed the area and used a dog to track the shooter’s scent.
Investigators were still working Thursday afternoon to establish a firm description of the shooter by interviewing witnesses and checking surveillance cameras in the area, including three mounted in the immediate vicinity of the shooting.
That may be difficult, police at the scene said. The suspect was described initially as wearing a dark colored hooded top that covered most of his face.
Witness Randy Davenport said he was picking up a dogwood tree and some shrubs at the nearby Home Depot with family when he heard what he thought were fireworks. He didn’t think much of the noise until he saw a white Chevrolet Silverado rolling toward him in reverse.
“We thought, ‘What in the world was going on?’ ” Davenport said. “We thought someone was in it.”
Only once the truck went over several grassy curbs and plowed through half a dozen shopping carts did Davenport and his brother-in-law, James Kingery, realize the vehicle was driverless.
Then they heard the screams.
“I’ve been shot!” the man cried. “I’m hurt!”
Jamilee Arthur heard the gunshots, too, and pulled over her car to help the victim. She’d been driving by when she saw Kingery and Davenport running from the home improvement store.
As Arthur, 30, called out for a rag to apply pressure to the man’s wounds, Davenport removed his T-shirt and handed it to her.
He went inside and told two employees that one of their co-workers had just been shot.
Arthur stayed with the man, who lay on the asphalt next to shattered glass left behind from the truck. She and the victim called 911, and Arthur asked him what the suspect was wearing, how tall he was and how much he weighed.
The victim described the shooter’s actions to her in clear detail, she said.
“He [the suspect] didn’t ask for his wallet,” Arthur said. “He was just specifically there for that one item. He knew what he was there for.”
The shooting stirred unwanted memories for Arthur, who said she was shot several times nine years ago by a relative in “exactly the same spot” in the torso where the man was injured Thursday.
She smoked a cigarette and sipped from a can of Red Bull as she held back tears, hoping the man would be all right.
“I knew kind of what to do and what to ask,” she said. “He didn’t have a very good pulse, and that scared me.”
Arthur, Kingery and Davenport agreed they heard what sounded like seven to eight shots. Police were still investigating that, as well as exactly how many might have struck the victim.
Employees at the Schewels store said they’d been instructed not to comment. A corporate spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached.
Both Schewels and Home Depot were open to customers shortly after the incident.
Anyone with information can call 911, 853-2212 or Crime Line at 344-8500.