(WCNC) Several hostages are free after a botched robbery and standoff at a North Carolina pharmacy.

Belmont police say the lone gunman, armed with an assault rifle, was spotted by a customer, who walked outside and called 911, before any demands could be made.

Officers arrived on scene before any conversation took place between the gunman and store employees.

Police officers say they ordered the gunman, identified as Edward Scott Ross, 46, to drop his weapon, but instead, police say, he opened fire, narrowly missing two officers.

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