Robbery suspects caught after hiding in Pimlico market Police with automatic rifles search building all night

June 16, 1992|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Staff Writer

An all-night search for two robbery suspects inside a Pimlico food market ended early today as heavily armed city police carrying semi-automatic assault rifles began to methodically search the building, police said.

One man surrendered at 5:30 a.m. and the other at 6:10 a.m. Both were taken to the Northwestern Police District, where each JTC was expected to be charged with armed robbery and using handguns in the commission of a felony.

It was not known if the two men were found hiding in the store or came out on their own.

Police believe the men were hiding in the basement, since the storeroom and drop ceiling earlier had been searched and declared "clean."

Immediately after the 9:20 p.m. robbery of the Super Pride food market in the 3700 block of W. Belvedere Ave., police arrested an armed man as he attempted to flee.

A fourth man, police said, escaped in the confusion and is being sought.

Shortly before more than a dozen police officers arrived, two of the robbers retreated inside the store after one dropped a bank bag containing an undisclosed sum of cash.

Within minutes, police surrounded the food store and prepared to wait out the men.

The robbery began when four men entered the store shortly before the 9 p.m. closing time and walked around as though they were shopping.

A customer who was about to leave saw the men put on rubber surgical gloves shortly before they approached the manager's office.

The customer left the store and flagged down a police car driven by a Tactical Squad officer.

Four men bolted out the front door just as the Tactical Squad officer pulled onto the lot.

Police caught one man running down the east side of the store.

He was identified as Gary Milan McGlone, 26, of the 5300 block of Beaufort Ave.

Police said McGlone was taken to the Northwestern District, where he was charged with armed robbery and using a handgun in the commission of a felony.

Taken from the man was a bank bag containing cash and a 9mm handgun.

A second man escaped while two others, both believed armed, ran back into the store.

Police said the manager and two plainclothes security officers saw the men re-enter the store and head for the back.

About the same time, the security men, along with the manager and two other employees, fled out the front door.

Shortly after the first of nearly 30 police officers arrived and surrounded the building, officers went to the rear and heard someone trying to open a locked door from the inside.

"We knew then" that the men were trapped in the store, said Lt. Walter A. Taylor of the Tactical Squad.

Lieutenant Taylor said the rear doors had been locked shortly before the robbers entered the store.

Within minutes of the aborted robbery, police from the Northwestern, Northern and Central districts were dispatched to the scene to reinforce the first police officers who arrived there.

Once the exterior was sealed off, heavily armed police and two hostage negotiators entered the store in an effort to get the two men to surrender.

A bullhorn was used but police received no response.

When efforts to reach the men failed and a brief search of the public shopping area failed to find the men, the Quick Response Team -- police armed with shotguns and assault rifles -- entered the building at 11:30 p.m.

Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman, said that before the QRT officers entered the store they conferred with employees to get a layout of the store.

"The QRT men then started to search the floor in grids in order to secure areas as they proceeded," Mr. Ringgold said.

After the shopping area and store office were declared safe, the officers entered the heavily-stocked rear storeroom. It, too, was searched and secured.

Next, the officers climbed into the crawl-space above the drop ceiling.

For more than two hours that area was carefully searched before being declared safe.

Around 1 a.m., the team of 10 QRT officers carrying assault rifles, shotguns and 9mm handguns, entered the full basement of the food store.

On at least one occasion, a policeman saw one of the suspects but was unable to reach him.

"He had a white shirt on and I caught a glimpse of him as he was trying to conceal himself," the officer said. The man was able to elude capture.

While the store was being searched, police with high-power rifles and telescopic sights took up positions on the roofs of nearby buildings, including the Bel-Park Towers, a senior citizens' center near the food store, in case the men made it to the store's roof.

For nearly an hour, a police helicopter flew above the store, illuminating the roof with its searchlight.

As the methodical search continued, crowds of bystanders stood at the edge of the secured area waiting for something to happen.

One man said the scene reminded him of the gangster film "High Sierra," during which Humphrey Bogart, who played a gunman, eluded police by taking refuge in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

"In the movie," the onlooker said, "they shot Bogart."

Mr. Ringgold said the police were doing everything to avoid gunfire in their search for the two men.

They were successful. No shots were fired throughout the nearly nine-hour ordeal.

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