Worker killed in Sizzler robbery 4 masked men hit Cockeysville eatery

December 27, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff Writer

An employee at a Cockeysville restaurant was shot to death last night by one of four masked men who entered the crowded establishment and announced a robbery, Baltimore County police reported.

John D. Tillman, a 29-year-old Baltimore man serving a work-release sentence as a salad bar attendant at the Sizzler Steak House on York Road, clashed with the gunmen, who became frustrated when they could not find the restaurant manager to open the safe.

"They were looking for the manager and they wanted him to open the safe," said a woman who witnessed the shooting and asked not to be identified. "They pulled one guy out and kept saying to him, 'Where is he, where is he?' "

It's unclear whether Mr. Tillman responded.

"And that's when they shot him right in the head," she said. "We were standing right there. Actually, we were crouching right there."

Witnesses attributed the actual slaying to a pair of gunmen who stepped out into the dining area and announced the robbery, demanding that patrons give up wallets and purses. The two men confronted Mr. Tillman as he worked.

Meanwhile, two other men vaulted the service counter in an unsuccessful attempt to find the manager. Detectives said no money was taken from the safe or the cash registers.

For that reason, Baltimore County police say they have not ruled out the possibility that Mr. Tillman might have been slain because he knew his assailants. Mr. Tillman, whose listed address is the Baltimore Pre-Release Unit on Greenmount Avenue, was working at the steak house on conditional release. He was serving a 17-year sentence for theft.

Patrons told police the gunmen were seen circling the restaurant in a tan or brown compact car just before the 8:37 p.m. incident.

Witnesses could provide only partial descriptions of the gunmen, who were all wearing stocking masks. Two had handguns.

Police said 29 people were in the restaurant during the shooting. After the robbery was announced, one woman fled with her three children as one of the gunmen screamed at her to stop.

After the shooting, the four men fled in the car, taking several wallets and other possessions.

Mr. Tillman was taken to Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, a nursing supervisor said.

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