Couple's shooting, robbery stir fears among Belvedere Square merchants

Injured pair's conditions are upgraded to stable

February 28, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

One day after a couple were critically injured by gunfire in a purse-snatching near Belvedere Square shopping center, store owners in the area are hoping the incident will not further harm a community already suffering business losses.

Baltimore police say crime is not a problem in the community surrounding York Road and Belvedere Avenue. Though most shop owners believe the shooting was a random act of violence, a few worry that the incident will leave an indelible impression on residents and visitors.

"As we have less and less merchants, people come and feel a little less protected," said Rosemary Thompson, who owns the Coffee Mill with her husband, Tom. She said the shooting victims, Jill Allan, 55, and Fredrick Allan, 78, were frequent customers in the shop, and they enjoyed walks in the neighborhood.

"I wouldn't want people to feel they have to go somewhere crawling with security guards to have a positive shopping experience," Thompson said. "We can lose the uniqueness of a family business to the malls."

Police said the Allans were on the sidewalk adjacent to a playground at Northern Parkway and Clearspring Road. The pair were confronted by three young men. Mrs. Allan's purse was taken, and both were shot -- Mrs. Allan twice in the wrist and thigh, and her husband once in the chest, police said.

The victims were taken to Sinai Hospital, where they were in critical condition after the shooting. They remained hospitalized yesterday afternoon, and both their conditions had been upgraded to stable, hospital officials said.

Police had not made an arrestyesterday afternoon, but a spokesman said detectives were working on the case around the clock.

"It's unfortunate that it happened here, but it could have happened anywhere," said Ted Hoeflich, manager of the nearby Chili's Grill & Bar. Hoeflich said two robberies in his restaurant -- one in November, the other earlier this month in a bathroom -- have not deterred customers.

For the past three years, the shopping center and his restaurant have hired security guards.

"We've always been a very popular and successful part of what happens here, and we want to continue that," he said.

Business in Belvedere Square has been on the decline in the past five years, especially after the centerpiece of the 103,500-square-foot complex, Belvedere Market, closed. Business owners blame poor management and a lack of involvement from city agencies.

Last year, the Baltimore Board of Estimates agreed to forgive a $1.7 million city loan to the center in exchange for efforts to renovate the site and attract tenants with $400,000 of private money.

Waverly resident Judy Lombardi said the shooting did not deter her from visiting yesterday.

"That has all become a part of who we are, now that this couple has been shot down the street but I'm not going to stop that from letting me come here," said Lombardi. "What these people have created here is a safe place. We're losing that quickly in the city, and it's very scary."

Pub Date: 2/28/99

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