Deliveryman, a former sheriff's deputy, fatally shoots 2 during holdup at Pizza Hut. He says he feared for his life.
Inside a cooler at an east Charlotte Pizza Hut, two would-be robbers were hitting and pistol-whipping a delivery driver. All the while, the driver said, he kept his right elbow pinned tightly against his body - holding a Glock 22 under his shirt and out of view.
He didn't want to use the gun unless he was forced to, he recalled Tuesday. But as he felt one of the men lifting his shirt, nearly exposing the gun, the deliveryman opened fire.
The two men killed - Gregory James Hardy and Dauntrae Wallace - were both 21-year-old convicted felons, one on probation and one awaiting trial on unrelated charges.
Police were searching Tuesday night for a third suspect who fled the attempted robbery and may have been wounded.
No charges have been filed against the deliveryman.
He asked that his name not be used out of fear for his and his family's safety. Officials confirmed that the 57-year-old had worked as a jail detention officer and a sheriff's deputy for about six years, until 2004.
The robbery was reported about 11:15 p.m. Monday at the restaurant at East Independence Boulevard and Idlewild Road.
Just after closing, the deliveryman said the store manager asked if he wanted a soda from the McDonald's across the street. The deliveryman said no, and continued cleaning while the manager left.
A moment later, three men walked in, at least two pointing guns. The first one told the deliveryman: "I mean business."
They told him to open the safe. The deliveryman said he didn't have access.
"Get down!" one ordered. When the deliveryman didn't, he says the man pistol-whipped him. The men then ordered him into a bathroom while they waited for the manager.
One of the robbers waited in the bathroom with the deliveryman. He ordered him to wrap his arms around the toilet, kneeling, and then demanded money.
"Every time I hesitated, he hit me. I have so many bumps," the driver said. He turned over his $42 in tips for the night and a gold chain with a Jesus medallion he's worn for almost 40 years.
The whole time, the driver tried to keep his gun pressed against his body, under his baggy shirt. The driver has a concealed carry permit, and started carrying the gun after being robbed twice in the past two years.
When the manager returned moments later, the suspects grabbed him. One told the deliveryman to crawl to the cooler in the back.
"I said I can't crawl," said the deliveryman, realizing that if he bent over any further his gun would stick out. "As soon as I stood up, he hit me. I took a big step and ended up in the cooler."
Then, the suspect demanded car keys and hit the deliveryman again, opening a nearly 2-inch gash next to his left eye.
When the suspect started to lift the deliveryman's shirt, he realized the robber was about to see his gun.
"I thought, 'He's gonna kill us,'" the deliveryman said. "They're gonna get what they want, and still kill me.
"I pulled my gun. I shot him three times, and he fell."
The second suspect started to rush into the cooler, and the deliveryman shot him too. The third suspect ran away.
When police and paramedics arrived, they found two suspects on the floor, both dead, with guns nearby. One investigator said it's possible the third suspect was wounded by the employee.
"We found some other evidence in the area of the business and are looking into that," CMPD Sgt. Gerard Farley said. Police did not have a detailed description of the man.
Both of the men killed have criminal pasts, court records show.
Wallace was convicted of breaking and entering and larceny in 2006. He was fined and given three years probation. In May, he was convicted of carrying a concealed gun and given another year of probation.
Court records show Hardy was convicted of car theft in 2006 and given three years probation. He was sent to prison for six months in 2007 when he violated his probation by trespassing.
Last year, he was arrested and charged with possessing and conspiring to sell marijuana, and was scheduled to be tried in November.
Their families couldn't be reached Tuesday night.
The Pizza Hut attempted robbery was the second closing time fast-food hold-up in less than 24 hours. Early Monday, the Wendy's on Charlottetowne Avenue near uptown was robbed by three men as it closed. A customer was pistol-whipped. Three men were arrested a short while later and charged with armed robbery.
Pizza Hut employees have been fired for using guns in self-defense.
Chris Fuller, a spokesman for Pizza Hut's national corporate office, said that "in the interest of our employees' safety, we don't discuss our safety policies publicly."
However, there have been several reports in recent years in which Pizza Hut officials said corporate policy forbids employees to have weapons while on the job.
A Pizza Hut employee in Columbia resigned last year after police said he shot and killed a robbery suspect.
The employee resigned, according to Pizza Hut's Fuller, because of the company's policy forbidding employees to carry firearms.
In one well-publicized May 2004 case, a Pizza Hut employee in Carmel, Ind., was fired after he shot and killed a would-be robber. And in 2008, a Pizza Hut worker in Des Moines, Iowa, lost his job after he shot and wounded a robbery suspect. Both of those Pizza Hut employees were delivery drivers.
Though the Charlotte deliveryman said he knew he'd be risking his job by drawing his gun, he was tired of being robbed. He does landscaping during the day and delivers pizzas at night.
"It's hard-earned money, and they think they can just take it?" he said Tuesday.
After killing the would-be robbers, the deliveryman went to Carolinas Medical Center for stitches and talked with investigators.
Tuesday morning, he went home, talked briefly with reporters, and went to sleep until Tuesday evening.
Asked how he was feeling Tuesday night, he shook his head: "I don't know. I don't know."
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