No charges will be placed against a West Baltimore liquor store owner who shot and killed an armed man who was trying to rob the business, city police said today.
The decision that no criminal charges would be filed against Alvin "Captain" Ray, 72, owner of Duke and Ray's liquor store in the 1400 block of Edmondson Ave. near Calhoun Street, was reached after a conference with the state's attorney's office, police said.
Police described yesterday's fatal shooting as self-defense.
"It's justifiable homicide," said Richard James, a city homicide detective.
A second, reportedly unarmed man who accompanied the gunman into the store escaped. He is wanted by police.
The victim was identified as Louis Easter, 25, of the 1800 block of W. Baltimore St., whose criminal record included drug, handgun and assault convictions, police said.
The shooting occurred shortly before 3 p.m. after two men entered the liquor store together.
"One man asked for some type of beer," said James. "The owner said, 'I don't carry that kind.' " James said one of the assailants then replied, " 'Give me National Boh.' "
Ray then turned his back, got five beers from a cooler and placed them in a brown paper bag, James said.
When he turned back around, the man was pointing a gun and announcing a holdup, James said.
When he saw the assailant's gun, Ray pulled out his .357-caliber Magnum revolver from his side holster, took cover behind the counter and fired four times, hitting the gunman once in the left side of the chest, James said.
The assailant never returned fire. He ran out of the store and collapsed on the corner outside, James said.
Police recovered a .32-caliber revolver on the sidewalk.
The other man fled north on Calhoun Street. James said it's possible the fleeing man was wounded. Police alerted area hospitals that a man shot with a large-caliber handgun may seek medical treatment.
After the shooting, some nearby residents said robberies and violence have become commonplace in the Harlem Park community. A police officer agreed.
However, several residents said they were surprised that "Captain Ray" was the victim of an attempted robbery and were happy he was not injured.
"He's been here for a long time," said resident Sanyika Taylor, 35, the manager of a coin laundry.
"He's a very nice man. He's a good man. He doesn't bother anybody. His prices are reasonable."
Another woman said, "Thank God he didn't get shot. The crime's just got to stop. It's ridiculous."
One police officer said, "It happens all the time."
Neighbors said that a store down the block was robbed Saturday. Also last week, neighbors said a grocery store was robbed on North Calhoun Street, not far from Duke and Ray's liquor store.
"It seems like it's a regular thing," said Taylor.