Dana Scribner was talking about the Bullets when two gunmen entered a Columbia gas station and threatened to shoot.
Mr. Scribner, 28, became one of the latest victims in what Howard County police are calling a countywide robbery "rampage" -- six since Dec. 7, all on odd-numbered days.
According to police, two masked men burst through the door of the Mobile gas station in the 10000 block of Shaker Drive in Columbia's Kings Contrivance Village at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday. Mr. Scribner, a clerk, was talking to two customers about basketball star Chris Webber and the excitement he brings to the Washington team.
"Then they came in and said, 'Give me all the money,' " Mr. Scribner said. "I was definitely a little scared."
The gunmen took money from the register, ordered the clerk and customers to the floor and took their wallets.
At the last minute, one suspect grabbed several cartons of cigarettes as "a kind of afterthought," Mr. Scribner said.
"The main thing is no one was hurt," he said. "But I'm not real happy about this."
The clerk, who has worked at the gas station for five years, said he had been prepared for the gunmen.
Reports of several robberies in the county had led him to keep a revolver handy when he worked. But he had locked the gun away in a back office because he was about to finish his shift, he said.
"It was just in case something like this happened," he said yesterday. "You never know, especially during the Christmas season."
Police say the two suspects are not seasonal robbers.
"These guys aren't out doing this to stock up for Christmas presents," said Sgt. Pete D'Antuono, head of the Crimes Against Persons section. "They appear to be an organized or semi-organized group that's on a rampage."
The gas station robbery was the second on Tuesday. A few hours earlier, a restaurant in Jessup was held up.
The physical descriptions given by witnesses and the geographic location of the robberies led investigators to think the crimes are related.
As of last night, police were blaming the pair for four Jessup robberies, one in Scaggsville and one in Kings Contrivance.
The quick robberies have occurred every other night since Dec. 7. Two were carried out by only one man, police said.
In four of the robberies, the suspects yanked phone cords from the wall so victims could not immediately call for help. In two instances, suspects were seen leaving the crime area in a silver vehicle, police said.
"In all probability, we think they might be those same guys," Sergeant D'Antuono said. "We won't know for sure until we catch them."
So far, the men are suspects in five other robberies:
* About 4:05 p.m. Tuesday, a man entered the China Dragon restaurant in the 8600 block of Route 1 in Jessup and approached the counter with his hand in his pocket. Police said he ordered an employee to open the cash register, took cash and drove off in a nearby silver Dodge Colt hatchback occupied by a second person.
* A suspect wearing a low cap entered the McDonald's in the 7800 block of Pocomoke Ave. in Jessup, ordered the manager and an employee to a back office and took cash from a safe Sunday.
* On Friday at 10 p.m., two nights earlier, two men -- both wearing ski masks -- robbed the same restaurant, ordering several customers to the floor and pistol-whipping one man who tried to escape. The men fled in a silver compact car with dark tinted windows, police said.
* Employees at Jessup's Red Roof Inn turned over about $300 on Dec. 7 when two men wearing bandannas and armed with semiautomatic weapons stormed the hotel lobby.
* About 55 minutes later, the police say they believe the same men went to a Texaco gas station in Scaggsville, threatened employees and customers with weapons, took cash and fled.
Anyone with information should call Howard County police at 313-2236 or the Metro Crime Stoppers hot line at 276-8888 to qualify for a reward of up to $1,000.
6 ROBBERIES IN 7 DAYS
* Dec. 7: Red Roof Inn in Jessup.
* Dec. 7: Texaco gas station in Scaggsville.
* Friday: McDonald's on Pocomoke Avenue in Jessup.
* Sunday: McDonald's on Pocomoke Avenue in Jessup.
* Tuesday: China Dragon restaurant on Route 1 in Jessup.
* Tuesday: Mobile gas station on Shaker Drive in Columbia's Kings Contrivance Village.