GAMBER — A man wielding a long-barreled handgun forced five employees of a bank to lie on the floor Friday afternoon while he emptied three cash drawers, state police said.
The gunman entered the Westminster Bank& Trust branch at routes 32 and 91, at 2:20 p.m., and escaped minutes later with an undetermined amount of cash, police said.
Two hours earlier, another gunman robbed a Sykesville-area video store of about $400, the manager said.
Trooper Doug Wehland said police do not know if the robberies are related, or if they are connected to a string of armed robberies at county businesses and banks over the last several weeks.
Employees described the bank gunman as a6-foot white male, 25 to 30 years old, of medium build, with dark hair. He wore blue jeans, a white T-shirt, white tennis shoes and whitebaseball cap, with a stocking over his head, Trooper Steven Burdelski said.
"He scaled the counter and ordered the tellers onto the ground," Burdelski said.
The man was carrying a long-barreled revolver, he said. No customers were in the bank at the time, and no one was hurt, he said.
State police deployed K-9 dogs, but were unsuccessful in tracking the man, Burdelski said. The bank's security camerasfilmed the robbery.
While the state police and an investigator from the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked inside the bank, confused customers waited in the parking lot.
Next door, Sterling and Elsie Raver and Anna Hartell sat in lawn chairs and watched the scene.
Sterling Raver, 73, lamented that he wasn't in the chair when the bank was robbed, as he usually is.
"I'm too old to be chasing bankrobbers, but I certainly would've tried," he said.
Hartell, 76, said, "It really shakes you up."
A man in a blue pickup who was prevented from doing his banking by the robbery, drove off shaking his head.
"This is getting too close to my home," he said.
At the High's store across the street, manager Randie Frock said she usually goes to the bank every day about 2:30 p.m., but went early Friday.
The store was robbed about five years ago, and she said she and her employees are suspicious of customers they don't know.
"We'll all be scared for awhile," she said.
At Showtime Video, at Route 26 andKlees Mill Road, manager June Coviello said the robber was her firstcustomer when she opened at noon.
The man asked her how she was doing when he walked in the store, she said, then began looking at themovies.
"Then he walked up to the counter and pulled a gun from his belt," said Coviello, whose 49th birthday was Friday. "He looked about as scared as he made me."
After demanding the money in the cash register and from Coviello's wallet, the suspect forced the woman into a back room to get more money.
When he had taken the money from the back of the store, he returned to the front, she said.
Coviello locked herself in the back room, and said she heard the suspect leave while she was calling the police.
"If he was bigger, he might have intimidated me," Coviello said. "I have five kids, and I don'tget intimidated very easily."
Wehland said the suspect is a thin white male, about 5-feet-8, in his late teens or early 20s. Coviello said he wore a peach-colored shirt with blue horizontal stripes.
No customers were in the store at the time, police said.
Police continue to look for two suspects who held up the 7-Eleven store on Liberty Road in Eldersburg Aug. 24 and for two men who robbed McDougall'sPharmacy in Sykesville Aug. 23.