UPDATE: Autozone Victim Condition Improves


Police are hot on the heels of the suspect in a deadly shooting that happened at an AutoZone at Palmer Park and Powers Blvd.

The shooting Wednesday night left one man dead, and another injured. 11 News spoke to a co-worker of the wounded man, Don LaRoe. The Berwick Electric employee is said to be in good spirits, recovering at a local hospital. Friday afternoon LaRoe was upgraded from "fair" to "good" condition. Police have not identified the man who was killed.

The suspect is 60-year-old Ernest Schmidt. He also uses the alias Edward Coffey, claiming to be 47. Police say he should be considered armed and dangerous. The suspect is wanted for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and second-degree kidnapping.

According to state documents, the suspect has been in trouble with the law many times, having had numerous burglary and theft convictions across the country.

Witnesses in the area of Astrozon and Gina, the scene of a SWAT situation Thursday morning, tell 11 News they believe the SWAT team was searching for the suspect.

"He always kept to himself," said Aaron St. Germain, who lives across the street from the house where Schimdt used to live. He last saw Schmidt at the home a month ago. He wasn't there when officers swarmed the house Thursday.

"I'm definitely glad he doesn't live there anymore," St. Germain said. "It definitely makes me a little more nervous."

The man who used to live across the street is linked to a grisly scene discovered Wednesday night. Police arrived to the AutoZone on Palmer Park and Powers to find a man shot to death in the parking lot. Don LaRoe was shot inside the store, and was taken to Memorial Hospital for surgery.

Police say their suspect then carjacked a vehicle from the scene and took a hostage. That hostage wasn't hurt after being released near the Village Inn at Palmer Park and Academy.

CSPD is actively searching for Schmidt. Police say he was last seen wearing dark-colored shorts and shirt, and a black baseball cap.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact police; those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP or text TIP411.

The El Paso County Coroner's Office have ruled the victim's death a homicide. This is the 14th homicide this year. At this time in 2010, there were 13 homicides.

AutoZone reopened for business Thursday afternoon.