Salisbury Police Chief analyzing department’s response to shooting incident at local restaurant

Salisbury Police Chief analyzing department’s response to shooting incident at local restaurant
Six people were shot, three others hurt during a melee at a Salisbury restaurant in January. (Source: David Whisenant-WBTV)

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes wants to analyze the department’s response to a shooting incident in January in which six people were shot at a party at Thelma’s Down Home Cooking restaurant.

“As Chief of this department, I work to ensure we are both responsive to the public’s concerns and that we are transparent in our operations," said Chief Stokes. "After some concern expressed by members of our community, I have tasked our Professional Standards Unit to debrief how we responded to the situation at Thelma’s Restaurant before, during, and after to ensure we operated within our standard procedures and policies. We will debrief whether our lines of communication are clear regarding information dissemination and if there are any areas where we can improve or alter. Our agency is Nationally Accredited under the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and has a range of standards we must meet to receive our accreditation. It is important for us to take opportunities to review our response to a situation such as this to ensure we are meeting those standards.”

The incident happened on the night of January 25. Hundreds of people attended a party at the restaurant located in the West End Plaza. Shortly after midnight on January 26, six people were shot following an altercation. Three more people were hurt in the scramble to leave the restaurant.

During a press conference last week Chief Stokes detailed what he said were the life-saving actions of his officers following the shooting when they rushed a victim to the hospital in a patrol car.

“Our officers’ response to the shooting at Thelma’s Restaurant was done with the utmost courage and restraint," Chief Stokes said. "Rather than running in and confronting the shooter or shooters with uncontrolled use of force in a crowded area that could have harmed innocent people, the officers entered and began to manage the quick escape of those attending the event, and located and assisted the victims. The officers’ actions were both heroic and compassionate, showing no regard for their own personal safety. It was the officers’ quick transport of the most seriously wounded victim that likely saved his life. Their quick presence may have also limited the number of injuries and avoided anyone losing their life in this tragic situation. We remain concerned for the victims, their families, and the entire community. I expect detectives to identify the suspect or suspects and bring appropriate charges for those responsible.”

The restaurant has since been closed by Rowan County for violations of the lease. The owner, Thelma Luckey, was cited for alcohol violations by ALE, and police pointed that Luckey had been warned prior to the party about the potential for trouble and urged not to hold the event.

One of the victims is paralyzed and remains in the hospital, all of the others were treated and released for their injuries, according to police.

No one has been charged in connection with the shooting, but Chief Stokes said progress was being made in the investigation.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.