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An officer is wounded and a suspect is killed in a shootout at a Burlington mall.


Burlington police officers shot and killed a suspected bank robber Friday after a foot chase through a shopping mall, according to police.

Joseph Michael Hoffman, 35, of 311 S. Lasalle St. in Durham was pronounced dead at Alamance Regional Medical Center after being shot by two Burlington officers, according to Capt. Mike Gauldin of the Burlington Police Department.One of those officers, Rodney Walker, 28, suffered a minor injury to his right thigh during the shooting, Gauldin said.

Police did not know whether a bullet or debris caused the wound, but Walker was treated and released at Alamance Regional Medical Center.

The chaotic events in and around the Holly Hill Shopping Mall started shortly after 1 p.m., when officers responded to a call that a man had robbed the First Union bank in the mall's parking lot. Capt. Gauldin said the events happened as follows:

An armed man went into the First Union bank, jumped on the counter and demanded that the 20 employees and customers lie down. The man then robbed the bank of an undisclosed amount of money.

The man walked out of the bank and south across the parking lot to the shopping mall.

Five officers responded to the robbery, including Todd Saunders, who was working a second job as a security guard at the mall. Officers Walker and Saunders spotted the suspect and followed as he walked through the Belk Beck department store and into the parking lot south of the mall.

Once in the parking lot, officers Walker and Saunders ordered the suspect to stop and put down his weapon. The suspect responded by pointing his gun at the officers. That's when the officers shot the suspect.

The gun turned out to be a pellet pistol, a replica of a Browning 9mm, Gauldin said.

``We were very fortunate that the actual confrontation didn't happen until the suspect was out in the lot, away from the mainstream of the shopping area,' Gauldin said. He added that there were no civilians present at the time of the shooting.

Gauldin did not know how many shots were fired but said several vehicles were riddled with bullets. He said the bank's money was recovered.

The State Bureau of Investigation will conduct a review of the incident, a customary procedure when an officer shoots anyone, Gauldin said.

The Burlington Police Department will conduct its own investigation, Gauldin said, and will be assisted in the bank robbery investigation by the FBI.


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