Raymond Hinchliffe, manager of the Safeway Food Store in Pasadena, suspected last night the pony-tailed shopper roaming the aisles of breakfast cereals and frozen foods was up to something.
So Hinchliffe approached the man in the long overcoat and shouted, "Hey you!" The man wheeled, hit the manager in the face with a handbasket and ran.
Sean McClure and Ben Baldi, two Safeway employees who usually go about the everyday tasks of stocking produce and operating the cash registers, bolted after the man. McClure caught up with the man and jumped on his back. Baldi tackled him. Hinchliffe caught up and helped hold the man for Anne Arundel County police.
"He kept on saying he had this bomb and that he was going to blow us all up unless we let him go," Hinchliffe said today. "It was kind of crazy but we just held him until the police came."
As testimony to the theory that heroes are made in the moment, police said the three Safeway workers had captured Gregory Lloyd Gasper, 35, of the 1700 block of Drevar Trail in Annapolis, wanted for 14 armed robberies since early January in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Prince George's counties and Fairfax County, Va. Ten of the robberies were of supermarkets or food VTC stores.
V. Richard Molloy, spokesman for Anne Arundel police, said Gasper has confessed to all the robberies, which occurred after a man threatened personnel with a fake bomb and a plastic toy pistol. He was charged with the five robberies that occurred in Anne Arundel and was being held for other jurisdictions.
The fake bomb -- a flare with a light taped to it -- and the toy pistol were recovered from Gasper and in his car, Molloy said. He said Gasper is a self-employed dental lab technician.
"We had been alerted to what the guy looked like and what he had done," Hinchliffe said. "That's why he jumped out at me last night. He seemed pretty intelligent the way he talked. But he never stopped resisting until the cops came."
Molloy said bail has not been set because "other police jurisdictions want to talk to him. We don't know how much money he got in all the heists but it was quite a bit, several thousand dollars in our county alone."