Store evacuated after armed man barricades himself inside

WHEATON, MD – A man suspected of shoplifting sparked a four-hour standoff with police on Wednesday after barricading himself in a fitting room at a JCPenney store in Wheaton, Maryland. The suspect, armed with a knife, prompted the evacuation of the department store during the tense standoff.

The incident began around 10:30 a.m. at the Westfield Wheaton Mall when 37-year-old Christopher Lawrence allegedly attempted to steal a watch from the store. Montgomery County Police Department reported that Lawrence then locked himself in a fitting room and allegedly threatened officers with the knife.

In response, the store was cleared of customers and staff as emergency response teams and negotiators were called to the scene. They attempted to coax Lawrence out of the fitting room and surrender to the police.

After four hours, at approximately 2:30 p.m., a SWAT team intervened. They deployed pepper balls into the fitting room, successfully taking Lawrence into custody. He was assessed at the scene and found to be uninjured during the incident.

Lawrence, who is currently without a known address, was transported to the police department’s Central Processing Unit. He is anticipated to face charges of first-degree assault. It is important to note that no officers or store employees were harmed during the incident.