Suspect identified in Pinnacle standoff, stabbing

By Nicholas Elmes - [email protected]

PINNACLE — Law enforcement has identified the suspect who was shot and killed by offers during an hours-long police standoff near a Pinnacle hair salon Friday evening, and another man is recovering from multiple stab wounds received prior to the standoff.

Maj. Jeff Lemons, of the Stokes County Sheriff’s Office, said he received a call from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at about 4 p.m. Monday who identified the suspect as Lee Aaron Gerston, 33, with a positive identification made by a family member.

Lemons said the incident began with a 5 p.m. call reporting a stabbing and armed robbery attempt at the Shear Country Hair and Tanning Salon on Old U.S. Highway 52. Lemons said a preliminary investigation indicated that Gerston had entered the business displaying knives and had gotten into an altercation with the owner’s husband, Paul Bradley, of Pinnacle.

Moments after arriving at the scene officers were told by witnesses that Gerston may be in a house further down Mill Street.

“Officers responded to the house and learned the suspect had barricaded himself in the house,” said Lemons, noting that officers were able to contact Gerston by cell phone and tried to get him to come out. “Over a two- to three-hour period we talked to him to try to get him to come out and he would not.”

When Gerston eventually exited the building, around 9 p.m., he was brandishing knives in both hands, according to Lemons.

“He was told numerous times to stop and drop the weapons,” said Lemons. “He did not comply with those commands and kept walking toward the officers with the weapon and shots were fired.”

Before officers fired their weapons they attempted to stop Gerston with a taser, Lemons said Saturday.

“It did hit him, but it did not stop him,” said Lemons.

He said four officers, Sheriff Mike Marshall, Capt. Thomas Sands, Lt. Shannon Gammons, and Detective Sargeant Wade White, fired their service weapons at the subject, noting that the number of shots and who fired the killing shot would not be determined until after an autopsy had been performed.

“EMS was called to the scene and they pronounced him deceased,” Lemons said Friday night.

“The family member advised the SBI that Gerston grew up in California, but had recently moved to the Knoxville, Tennessee, area,” Lemons reported. “The family member advised Gerston was taking a friend to a drug rehab somewhere in Virginia. It is unknown to investigators and the family how or why Gerston got to Stokes County in North Carolina.”

Lemons said the case was immediately turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation, following department protocols for any officer involved shooting.

Lemons said Bradley was stabbed multiple times during the armed robbery attempt prior to the standoff, had been treated and released from a Winston-Salem hospital. He added that Gerston had taken a variety of electronic equipment from the business.

Old U.S. Highway 52 and Mill Street were closed for a portion of the night as a result of the incident.

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

By Nicholas Elmes

[email protected]

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