Police charge 2 men with robberies Convenience stores, restaurants targeted in two-month string

August 21, 1998|By Paula Lavigne | Paula Lavigne,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police believe they have unraveled the mystery of a two-month string of 20 robberies after arresting two men who they say held up convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and other shops near the city's downtown.

Some of the stores were hit more than once during the June and July spree.

The two men, in custody since July 31, were charged Tuesday. Paul Gant, 29, of the 3500 block of Holmes Ave. was charged with firearms violations and robbery. Donald Rochester, 40, for whom police had no address, was arrested in Baltimore County in a bank robbery there, said city police Detective Shelia Savaliski.

In addition to shops, robbers hit a bank during the spree, police said. Many of the locations were in the Charles Street corridor.

At each robbery, the detective said, one or two men would enter the store, show a note demanding money to an employee and imply or show a gun. Savaliski said one man served as a lookout, while the other man confronted the cashier.

No one was injured in the robberies, police said.

Debbie C. Snively, store manager of OK Natural Food at 11 W. Preston St., said her store was robbed four times last month -- twice by a man producing a note on a scrap piece of white paper that said, "Give me all your money or I'll start shooting."

Snively said the first robbery occurred July 6.

When she saw the man return July 13, she told him that he wasn't welcome. "He reached in his bag and said, 'This gives me the right to be here,' " she said, implying that he had a gun. She said $150 was stolen from the register each time.

Chris Armbruster, owner of the Musical Exchange at 422 N. Charles St., said a man entered his store July 22 and began browsing. When he asked the man if he could help him find something, Armbruster said, the man pulled a handgun and demanded money.

"When I showed him what I had in the register, which wasn't much, he said, 'Give me everything you've got, in your pockets, underneath the register, whatever,' " Armbruster said. The robber left with about $400.

Armbruster said he was happy to be uninjured.

"I've been robbed before and I was lucky," Armbruster said. "I said [this time] I hope I get lucky again."

Pub Date: 8/21/98

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