Man killed by Huntersville police at hospital was Irma evacuee, investigators say

Novant Health Huntersville
Novant Health Huntersville Novant Health

The man killed by Huntersville police at a local hospital Sunday was traveling to New York from Florida due to Hurricane Irma, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations announced Tuesday.

Huntersville Police responded to Novant Health Medical Center after someone reportedly fired several shots late Sunday. When officers arrived, they found Joseph Charles Cook, 76, armed with a gun inside the hospital, the SBI said.

“An encounter ensued, during which...the officers...felt threatened by the man’s actions and fired several rounds striking him,” Huntersville Police said in a statement.

Cook died from his injuries, and investigators have not publicly discussed a motive yet. No one else was injured during the incident, police said.

The SBI said Huntersville police officers Michael Joseph, 32, and Travis Watts, 27, “encountered” Cook, although the agency did not say who shot Cook. They’ve been placed on administrative leave, which is typical after officer-involved shootings.

Investigators believe Cook was traveling from DeLand, Fla., which is about 35 miles north of Orlando, because of Hurricane Irma, the SBI said. Cook had no criminal record aside from paying a fine for selling tobacco to a minor in 2001, public records show.

Huntersville Police announced Monday that they had asked the SBI to investigate the incident. On Tuesday, the SBI said it is still investigating and asked anyone with information to call 980-781-3000.

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester