The man, who was shot by police after opening fire on officers Thursday afternoon outside a car dealership in Belmont, is facing eight counts of attempted murder, police said in a news release Friday.
The shootout unfolded outside the Keith Hawthorne Ford dealership on North Main Street and police said there were people in the area when the suspect started firing.
It started when police got a call that a man armed with a handgun was at the dealership and threatening to shoot employees.
Officers arrived and tried to deescalate the situation with the suspect, Dustan Jennings Hoffman, 45, of Gastonia.
An acquaintance of Hoffman said he had problems with the dealership.
Hoffman fired at officers and into the dealership where there were employees and customers.
“We attempted to get the subject to disarm himself,” Belmont Police Chief Chad Hawkins said. “He started firing upon the officers, firing into the general area where other workers and citizens were. The officers returned fire.”
Officers returned fire and Hoffman drove out of the dealership onto McAdenville Road before getting into a wreck with two vehicles.
Hoffman was struck by the return fire and taken to Caromont Regional Medical Center for treatment.
Eight Belmont police officers were involved in the shooting and have been assigned to administrative duties.
In addition to the attempted murder charges, Hoffman faces assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, assault on a government official, going armed to the terror of the public and discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling. Additional charges are pending. Warrants have been obtained but have not been served as of Friday.
Hoffman’s acquaintance said he had become withdrawn and was suspicious of others.
“It was kind of like a thing that I knew was coming,” she said. “We all kind of knew it was coming.”
Police records show officers had been to Hoffman’s home several times in the last nine months, including twice in February. Those were involuntary commitment calls, according to police records.
“There’s been a lot of problems back and forth lately between him and law enforcement and people in the neighborhood he lives in,” the acquaintance said.
She said Hoffman was always carrying.
“He always keeps at least a pistol on his side, if not multiple other weapons,” she said.
Russell Mason was with his 8-year-old son in their car when the shots rang out. He grabbed his cellphone and started recording.
“When I heard those gunshots, I knew it was a totally different situation then,” Mason said Thursday.
He and his son almost got caught up in the gunfire when Mason stepped on the gas pedal.
“The screeching of the tires was me,” Mason said. “I had to hurry up and bust a U-turn to get out there because you could hear the bullets hitting cars and everything. Basically, my fatherly instinct kicked in to get my son out of there. That was my first priority. Like, I don’t want him to get hurt.”
No other injuries were reported.
The SBI is investigating the shooting.