A popular downtown hot dog vendor and his girlfriend were critically wounded at lunchtime yesterday when an armed robber opened fire on them outside the University of Maryland Dental School, Baltimore police said.
John Trikilis, 27, of the 3000 block of E. Timonium Road, Lutherville, and Mindy Lynn Murzda, 21, of the 5000 block of Stone Hill Drive, Ellicott City, were shot about 12:30 p.m. at the corner of West Baltimore and North Pine streets, police said. Customers were in line to buy lunch at the time.
Both were taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, which is about a block from the scene.
Mr. Trikilis, who was shot once in the chest, was listed in critical but stable condition.
Ms. Murzda, who was shot twice in the lower back, was in serious but stable condition, a hospital spokesman said.
As he often does, Mr. Trikilis was filling in for his brother, Manny, who went to Greece to attend a wedding, friends said. Ms. Murzda acted as his assistant. Police said the two were approached by two youths pretending to want to buy food.
One of the youths reached for Ms. Murzda's hip pack, in which she was storing money from yesterday's sales, police said. When Mr. Trikilis tried to stop him the youth began firing, police said. The youth managed to get the woman's hip pack, and he and his companion fled on on foot, police said.
The armed youth is described as a slim, dark-skinned black male, 16 to 17 years old and 5-feet-7. He was wearing a yellow T-shirt. His accomplice is described as a 5-foot-4 black male, 16 to 17 years old. He was wearing a red and white T-shirt and shorts.
Outside the dental school yesterday afternoon, workers and students said they were stunned by the shooting. They said it happened very fast.
Judy Vicchio, 29, a receptionist, said she was sitting on a bench when she heard four shots.
"I jumped up and ran inside the building," she said. "I didn't know where the shots were coming from."
She said she saw people diving to the ground, fearing for their safety.
John Lewis, 28, a dental student, said he saw Mr. Trikilis fall to the street.
"I went over to him to try and comfort him until police came," Mr. Lewis said.
Mr. Trikilis said he was worried about his girlfriend, Mr. Lewis said. Ms. Murzda said she was hurt and couldn't feel her legs, he said.
Sarena Ross, 20, a receptionist at the dental school and a paramedic student in Harford County, said she didn't realize what was occurring when the shooting started.
"I heard screaming and yelling," Ms. Ross said. "I thought there was an argument going on." But people were shouting that someone had been shot, she said, and she went outside where she saw the two victims lying three feet apart.
"I said, 'John can I help you,' and he said, 'Help me it hurts,' " Ms. Ross said. She said she held Mr. Trikilis' hands and tried to keep him calm. She said he was going into shock because his pupils were beginning to dilate.
She described Mr. Trikilis as a friendly man who treated his customers like friends. She said she had purchased a soda from him just two hours earlier.