Robbery suspect shot by guard at shopping mall

Police seek 2 accomplices who stood outside store

January 05, 2000|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

A security guard shot and wounded a robbery suspect after the man allegedly pointed a gun at the guard and a jewelry store clerk at Towson Town Center yesterday afternoon, Baltimore County police said.

Police said they are searching for two accomplices who were standing outside Mark Douglas Jewelers on the fourth floor of the mall at the time of the shooting. Four other employees were in the store at the time. None was injured.

Police said the security guard became suspicious of the three men because they returned several times to the store.

"They had been walking in and out, separately, of the store throughout the day, which alerted the security guard," said Cpl. Vickie Warehime, a county police spokeswoman.

The shooting occurred about 12: 35 p.m. when one of the men walked up to the counter, reached into his waistband and pulled out a handgun. The security guard, employed by the jewelry store, shot the man once in the stomach, police said.

"The suspect staggered into the doorway where he collapsed," Warehime said. The other two men began "running in opposite directions." The wounded man was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was reported in serious but stable condition. Police did not release the name of the guard or the suspect.

The guard is employed by Esdibar Security Inc., which lists a Rockville address. Company officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mark Douglas Jewelers is an Ocean City-based chain with six stores statewide. Company officials declined to comment.

Employees next door at the clothing store Talbots Kids moved their customers to back rooms and locked the front doors. Nearby stores also locked their doors and front gates.

"We heard one shot, and I heard a lot of running," said a Talbots' employee who asked not to be named. "We went to the back, and I locked the doors. I kept peeking to see if it was OK to come out."

An employee at Hold Everything, a storage containers store, said the gunshot echoed loudly, and she saw the security guard standing over the suspect.

"I just heard the security guard say `Don't move, don't move,' and he had the gun in his hand," she said.

Some mall patrons were frightened by the incident, while others hovered near the crime scene.

"People were taking pictures. Isn't that weird?" said E. J. Johnston of Towson.

A mall official said no changes are planned in security arrangements. The mall employs about 200 security guards. A handful of stores hire their own, said Christopher Schardt, the mall's vice president and general manager.

"Unfortunately, we can't prevent the ills of society," Schardt said. "I don't know what we could have done to prevent this."

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