Shootings aren't an every-day occurrence in the Westview area of southwestern Baltimore County, say store owners along Baltimore National Pike.
So, when a Philadelphia woman was found slain Monday night at a Westview motel, it didn't take much thought to link the incident with the shooting and robbery of a Baltimore teacher less than two weeks ago in the parking lot of the mall nearby.
"My partner and I were just talking [yesterday] and I said, 'I wonder if it's the same guy,' " said Mark Calamita, who runs the Rollin' in the Dough bakery inside Hochschild's Value City Furniture in Westview Mall. "A woman was shot over at the mall the other week, and now this."
County police were pursuing the same theory as Calamita's -- that the motel slaying and the mall shooting may be related.
Police today were to continue their investigation into the similarities in Monday's slaying of Valerie Esther Brown and the Sept. 8 shooting of Katherine Dwyer.
About 11:20 p.m. Monday, a night security guard discovered the body of Brown, 30, lying outside her room at the Quality Inn, in the 5800 block of Baltimore National Pike. She had been shot once in the chest.
A sales representative for Holt, Rinehart and Winston Publishing Co., Brown had checked into the motel earlier in the day. Police spokesman Sgt. Stephen Doarnberger said it is believed that she was shot sometime between 10 p.m. and 11:20 p.m.
Brown's purse was missing, he said.
A little more than a week ago, Dwyer, a kindergarten teacher, was shot in the upper body as she struggled with an assailant in the parking lot of the Westview Mall, on the even side of the 5800 block. As Dwyer loaded packages into her truck about 3 p.m., she was approached by a man who tried to take her purse. The two struggled and the man shot Dwyer in the left arm and upper body.
Dwyer is recovering from her wounds.
Doarnberger said the proximity of the incidents and the fact that both women were shot and had their purses stolen have police investigating the similarities, even though the Dwyer shooting occurred during the day.
There have been incidents in and around the mall "from time to time," Doarnberger said.
Before Dwyer's shooting, another woman had her purse snatched in the area Sept. 6 and two armed men held up a man as he used a pay telephone in the area. Doarnberger said those two incidents did not appear to be related to the shootings.
Still, Calamita said he worries what effect the shootings will have on people in the area.
"It's scary. We're worried about the reaction of our customers. We wonder if they'll keep coming out. I had one of our regulars, an elderly man, tell me he's glad he doesn't have to come out at night," Calamita said.
Police today also were continuing to investigate the shooting early Tuesday of an Essex man as he approached an automated teller machine in Rosedale.
Jerry Lee Mathis, 43, of the first block of Pinyon Court in Essex, remained in critical condition at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore with gunshot wounds in the head, chest and abdomen.
Police said Mathis was walking toward the machine at Maryland National Bank in the 7900 block of Pulaski Highway when he was shot. It was not known whether any money was taken from Mathis.
Mathis did manage to get into his car and drive about a quarter-mile along Pulaski Highway before crashing his car into a concrete median strip.
Police said the Rosedale and Westview shootings did not appear to be related.