Man with knife ends barricade inside JC Penney dressing room at Wheaton Mall after police use pepper ball

Montgomery County police said a person was barricaded inside of a JCPenney at Westfield Wheaton Mall on Veirs Mill Road. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

An hourslong barricade inside a Montgomery County, Maryland, department store ended with one man in custody.

Christopher Lawrence, 37, surrendered around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday after barricading himself in a dressing room of a JC Penney at Westfield Wheaton Mall on Veirs Mill Road for four hours. SWAT used pepper balls to get the man to turn himself in.

Lawrence was taken into custody and evaluated because of the use of the chemical, WTOP’s Kate Ryan reported. Police said he is expected to be charged with first-degree assault.

A Montgomery County police spokeswoman said that around 10:30 a.m., Lawrence tried to steal a watch from the store. When store staff called 911 and police arrived, that’s when he went into a dressing room or lounge.

Police said the Lawrence displayed a knife, refused to leave and made threats against them. During the barricade, police evacuated the store but other parts of the mall remained open.

JC Penney remained close on Wednesday.

Below is the area where it happened.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan reported from Wheaton mall.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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