RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A 74-year-old man ranting about a broken phone drove his car through the glass storefront of a Verizon Wireless store in North Carolina, authorities said Friday, stunning shoppers during the dinner hour at an upscale mall.
Charles Michael Hager was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and damaging property after he drove a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta into the store at a busy shopping center Thursday night, according to police.
A witness told a 911 operator that he saw Hager standing outside the store located between two popular restaurants, demanding that it reopen to help him with his broken phone.
“He was demanding to get his phone fixed,” the unidentified caller said, later adding: “He said: ‘My damn phone’s not working. I need help. Open this damn door.”
A police news release said Hager first kicked the door, shattering glass, then drove his car through the storefront. Six employees were in the store, but no one was injured.
“There’s no front door. All the glass is shattered. It’s amazing. His front end is still inside the front door. I’ve never seen anything like it,” the witness told the 911 operator.
The caller said a crowd of bewildered onlookers gathered around as the man got out of his car wearing a gray collared shirt and gray slacks and continued to yell. The scene unfolded at North Hills Mall, an outdoor shopping center surrounded by pricey homes and several high-rise office buildings north of downtown.
The operator warned the caller, who was standing 10 feet away, to keep a safe distance.
Hager didn’t immediately return a phone message Friday. A police spokeswoman didn’t know if he had an attorney.
The phone number for the store played a message Friday saying it was closed, and a sign posted in the window apologized to customers for any inconvenience. A security guard sat inside behind a temporary wooden door installed after the crash.
Kate Jay, a regional spokeswoman for Verizon, said the company is grateful no employees were hurt but declined to say whether the workers had previous interactions with Hager.