James Green, a 71-year-old Northwest Baltimore man, turned the tables on a much younger stick-up man who thought he had come across an easy mark.
As the masked gunman brandished what appeared to be a 9mm pistol, Mr. Green began blasting away with his own weapon, a small .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun. When the smoke cleared, Mr. Green was unscathed and the robber had wounds in the back and buttocks.
When city police arrived at the scene, they quickly learned why the battle was so lopsided. Mr. Green was packing a real gun and the robber was armed with a toy.
The incident occurred just after midnight yesterday as Mr. Green returned to his residence in the Oakfield House apartments in the 3900 block of Liberty Heights Ave.
Mr. Green told police that he was returning home from a party when he removed his pistol from his pocket and cuffed it in his hand just in case he encountered trouble. When Mr. Green walked into the building's hallway, he spotted a masked man standing behind a door brandishing what appearred to be a 9mm semiautomatic handgun.
"This is a stick-up," the gunman yelled.
Mr. Green told police that he wasn't certain what happened next. There was movement. His gun went off and the robber dropped his weapon, yanked off his mask and ran from the building.
When police arrived they found the alleged assailant lying out front with gunshot wounds of the back and buttocks.
Darnell Holmes, 24, of the 3900 block of Norfolk Ave., was taken to University of Maryland Medical Center, where he was reported in good condition.
Police said he faces a charge of attempted armed robbery when he is released from the hospital.
The city state's attorney's office declined to press charges against Mr. Green. The investigation is continuing.
Yesterday, as word of Mr. Green's confrontation spread, he drew support from another resident of the apartment building who said crime has increased in the area.
"What would you do?" asked Carroll E. Coates, 51, who has lived in the apartment building since 1972. "The man was trying to protect himself."