Officer fatally shoots robber at gas station Attendant fought thief because she feared he planned to kill her

November 27, 1995|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Not one to do anything stupid, Debra Rausch always handed over the money the four or five times she was robbed while working at Ed's Shell Station in Glen Burnie.

And the robbers always ran away with the cash.

Things were different just after 4 a.m. Saturday, when the clerk figured the gunman was lingering, taking her to the back room to shoot her.

She grabbed for his gun and didn't let go. Neither did he. They rolled, thrashed and tumbled through the store for what she guessed was two minutes.

"I held onto it like glue," she said of the gun. "He was hitting me in the face, and he was saying, 'Are you fighting me?' He got mad."

Then she heard an officer arrive and say something. She was dazed, had lost her glasses. She heard a shot.

Police shot Ronald Delroy Chisley, 28, as he charged toward them with the gun, said a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County police force. Mr. Chisley, who had no fixed address, died several hours later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Ms. Rausch ended up with a bruised back, a few knots on her head and a bloody nose. She returned to work the next night.

"You get tired of being a victim, and I was worried about what he would do to me," said Ms. Rausch, 43. "I just wasn't going to be someone taken to the back office and shot."

A former voice-processing specialist for the Air Force, she never had combat training or a self-defense course.

"I've never been in a fight with anyone in my life," she said. "This was the very first time. I hope the last."

Robberies are not uncommon at the gas station. On the overnight shifts, Ms. Rausch keeps the doors locked and only lets in those she deems safe. Sometimes she guesses wrong.

"The smart ones, they come in, they get the money and they get out," she said. On Saturday, the gunman wanted her to lead him to the video monitor in the back office to remove the tape.

"I was worried. He had the money. He should have gotten out of here," she said.

This is when she began to think he planned to kill her.

She had lied and told him she didn't own a VCR and didn't know how to remove a tape. When he tried to remove it himself, she grabbed his gun.

"He was smaller than me, and I'm a good-sized lady," she said. "I figured if he didn't have the gun, all he could do was hit and kick me."

Police arrived and told the gunman to freeze, but he charged at them, said Sgt. Jeff Kelly of the Anne Arundel County Police Department. Police fired one shot, hitting Mr. Chisley in the chest. He ran past the officers, out the front door and behind the building before collapsing. The officer who shot Mr. Chisley has been placed on administrative leave.

Sgt. Kelly said it is very unusual for a unarmed clerk to fight off an armed robbery.

"I don't know why she did it," he said. "Perhaps fearing anything worse, she took this pretty gutsy action."

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