Woman accused of aiding grocery suspect is arrested Alleged robber killed by officers outside Giant

January 20, 1998|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

A 32-year-old woman has been charged with attempted robbery after a botched holdup Sunday morning at the Arbutus Giant that left a robbery suspect dead in the grocery store's parking lot, police said.

Devona "DeeDee" Whittaker was being held yesterday in the Baltimore County Women's Detention Center on $50,000 bail. Whittaker, who has no known address, was arrested Sunday after police determined she was driving what they believe was the getaway car -- a gray 1983 Toyota.

Whittaker is believed to have been involved in the thwarted robbery of the Giant with her friend, Eric Eugene Knight, 38, of the first block of Sharonwood Court in Catonsville, said police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Novak.

Knight was fatally shot by two county police officers as he clutched a note reading, "One wrong move and you're dead" in one hand and a pellet gun in the other, Novak said.

'Super Fresh bandit'?

Police were to begin canvassing grocery stores today to determine whether Knight was the "Super Fresh bandit" -- responsible for 18 robberies, many at Super Fresh stores, since October.

A photo array of Knight was expected to be circulated today in grocery stores that have been robbed of cash since last fall, Novak said.

A clerk in the Arbutus Giant, in Wilkens Beltway Plaza, said she identified Knight from a sketch on a wanted poster in the store, Novak said. The clerk also said she recognized Knight as a suspect in a Jan. 6 holdup at the Giant that is part of the series of robberies, Novak said.

Police said that Whittaker was waiting Sunday in the Toyota in the parking lot with the engine running and witnessed the police shootout with Knight. A police report said Whittaker had started to "drift" the vehicle away from the scene when she was arrested.

According to the police report, Whittaker told police she met Knight two months ago through mutual friends and that the couple used to smoke crack cocaine together. Whittaker told police that Knight did not tell her he was going to rob the Giant, but that she had a "funny feeling the entire time Knight was inside the store," the report said.

Suspicious clerk

The checkout clerk who said she recognized Knight stalled as he approached her register holding the note and two grocery items, Novak said. When the clerk closed the register, Knight left the store, flashing the pellet gun to the store manager on his way out, police said.

When county police officers approached Knight in the parking lot, he also displayed the gun, police said, prompting the two officers to draw their weapons and fatally shoot him while horrified shoppers looked on.

The two officers have been placed on administrative duty pending completion of the investigation.

Pub Date: 1/20/98

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