NORFOLK – Police identified the man they say tried to steal a police officer's unmarked vehicle on Tuesday.
Marius Xavier Mitchell was shot by the officer, who was dragged several feet after reaching into the car to stop him, according to spokesman Officer Chris Amos.
He says it started when an officer saw a "suspicious vehicle" swerving, speeding and diving erratically in the neighborhood, pulling into the parking lot of a 7-Eleven at 8401 Hampton Boulevard, near Naval Station Norfolk.
Police say the officer pulled into the lot and turned on his lights. As the officer approached the car, one of two people in that car allegedly opened his door and ran off while the driver left.
According to police, the officer pursued the suspect who ran away. Police say the suspect circled back and tried to steal the police car. As the officer reached inside the car to grab the suspect, the driver allegedly pulled away while dragging the officer.
Police say that’s when the officer shot the suspect before gaining control of the unmarked police car.
Steve Azar witnessed the incident.
“I saw the cop with his gun out and the guy in the car with his hands up. The back window was broken," said Azar.
Residents in the neighborhood said they were surprised by the shooting. "I've lived here for almost 16 years and this is the first time an incident like this has happened," said Rosalind Sloan, who lives down the street.
Around 1:30 p.m., police said they'd located the vehicle that the officer had tried to stop, a four-door gold Dodge Avenger. It was left in an alley behind a vacant home not far away on Greenbrier Avenue.
Amos says there were three people in the Avenger. Mitchell is the only one that has been charged, a second is in custody and the third suspect has not been apprehended yet.
Diane Timber, who lives in the same row of houses as the vacant one, looked out her window and saw police cars and officers.
"When I opened my door, there was three guys, and he said, 'Get back in your house,' and I was saying, 'Okay,' so I shut the door and I came back in the house," recalled Timber. "I've been here for 12 years, and it never happened, you know, nothing bad around here, but you never can tell."
Police want anyone who saw events during that time to call them.
The officer who wounded the suspect has been with the department four about five years. He is recovering from minor injuries and will be on administrative leave, which is standard procedure when a service weapon is fired, said Officer Chris Amos.
Mitchell, who remains in the hospital, is facing charges of malicious wounding, grand larceny and felony eluding police.