What happened before Charlotte police officer shot woman


Charlotte-Mecklenburg police investigators stand near the motorcycle of an officer who was involved in a shooting on Tyvola Road in Charlotte, NC, on Thursday, September 23, 2021. The shooting happened near the intersection of South Boulevard.

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The woman shot and wounded by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer outside a beauty supply store Thursday “wasn’t acting very normal,” the business owner told The Charlotte Observer.

Police on Friday identified the woman as 23-year-old Raynique Austin. Public records show she has a Spartanburg, S.C., address. She was in stable condition at a local hospital, according to a CMPD news release.

When Austin is released from the hospital, police said she’ll be charged with attempted murder, five counts of hit and run, fleeing to elude arrest and damage to property.

Just after 4 p.m. Thursday, officers responded to a call about an armed woman outside a business firing gunshots at the owner of EC Beauty Supply on Tyvola Road near South Boulevard.

A police officer on a motorcycle arrived as the woman was driving away, Chief Johnny Jennings told reporters Thursday. The woman then made “deliberate attempts” to hit the officer with her vehicle, Jennings said.

“He had no other option” than to shoot at the driver, Jennings said.

Other officers tried to stop the woman, but she drove off. An ensuing pursuit ended at an apartment complex in the 7700 block of Cedar Creek Drive, near Johnston Road in south Charlotte, the department said.

Officers found her with “several apparent gunshot wounds,” CMPD said. Medic said it transported a person with life-threatening injuries.

Doors locked, then a gunshot

Austin was shopping inside EC Beauty Supply, but became agitated for an unknown reason at the counter, owner Paul Ra said. When he opened a jewelry case for her, Austin turned “highly upset” and began knocking over cosmetics displays, Ra said. He told her to leave, but she threatened him by saying she was “going to get a gun,” he said.

“In no way did I make any physical contact with her, I was just trying to get her to get out,” Ra said in a phone call with the Observer.

After Austin exited the shop, Ra said he looked out the window and saw her grab a gun from her vehicle, which prompted him to close the doors. She fired a shot into the air and at the shop’s front door, he said. The two struggled for control of the door, he said. Once Ra got the door closed, he locked it and called police.

Ra watched Austin through the shop’s exterior cameras, which he said she tried to shoot.

He remained inside the store with employees and customers, away from doors and windows, until police arrived, Ra said, and isn’t sure what happened next. The employees and five customers exited the shop through a fire exit in the back, he said.

The store could reopen Saturday after he cleans up inside, Ra said.

“Everything inside was safe after she left the store,” Ra said. “Nothing was damaged inside as far as guns, shots or anything like that.”

A CMPD spokesman, in an email to the Observer, declined to confirm Ra’s portrayal of the incident.

“As updates to cases become available, they will be sent out to everyone via a media release,” the spokesman said in the email.

Officer Dustin Smith, who CMPD said shot Austin, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of investigations, police said. That is standard policy whenever an officer discharges his or her weapon.

The State Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate this incident, police said.

Staff writer Gavin Off contributed to this story.

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Jonathan Limehouse is a breaking news reporter and covers all major happenings in the Charlotte area. He has covered a litany of other beats from public safety, education, public health and sports. He is a proud UNC Charlotte graduate and a Raleigh native.