ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. – Three men were arrested in Rowan County after investigators said they robbed and kidnapped an undercover detective during a drug transaction.
According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, a purchase of narcotics was arranged with the suspects to take place in a parking lot on East Innes Street in Salisbury. When the detective arrived at the location, investigators say he got into the suspect’s vehicle and was robbed at gunpoint.
"These situations are inherently dangerous for the police because, essentially, guns are a tool of the trade for the drug traffickers," said Rowan County Chief Deputy David Ramsey.
Police said one of the suspects was in possession of a stolen .40 caliber handgun and stole the officer’s service weapon and $1,561 in cash. When they attempted to leave with the detective, surveillance agents confronted the suspects and arrested them. The kidnapped officer was able to escape without injury.
"It's a situation that could have been a lot worse than it ended up being," Ramsey said. "Thank goodness this occasion that we were able to make the arrest without someone getting killed."
The suspects were identified as Donald Tiberio Armstrong, 36, Tyrese Jamale Stiller, 18, and John Michael Sheehan, 36.
Armstrong was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, possession of a stolen firearm, first-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was given a $250,000 bond.
Investigators said Armstrong has an extensive criminal history that includes multiple drug offenses. In 2009, he was convicted in U.S. District Court for conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine. He was released from prison on July 1, 2016 and is presently on supervised release, police said.
Stiller was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, possession of a stolen firearm, first-degree kidnaping, possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, and robbery with a dangerous weapon. Stiller was given a $250,000 bond.
Sheehan was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, first-degree kidnaping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was given a $150,000 bond.
Detectives said Sheehan has a previous record that includes multiple drug charges and DWI.