Courier kills would-be robber

Ex-officer shoots when armed man approaches car demanding money

March 01, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

An armed courier shot and killed a would-be robber yesterday at a busy shopping center in Woodlawn during the lunch-hour rush, Baltimore County police said.

The courier for a check-cashing service, making an unscheduled stop at Meadows Park Shopping Center at Security Boulevard and Woodlawn Drive, also was shot. However, it was unclear whether the robber shot him or if he injured himself, police said.

The courier, an employee of A&B Check Cashing Co., was released from St. Agnes HealthCare yesterday afternoon, said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman.

FOR THE RECORD - An article and photo caption in yesterday's editions of The Sun misidentified the supermarket in the Meadows Park Shopping Center in Woodlawn, where a would-be robber was fatally shot Friday. The store is a Food King supermarket.
The Sun regrets the error.

Detectives said the courier was driving an unmarked gray Hyundai and had pulled in front of the Food Lion supermarket about 12:45 p.m. A colleague had just gotten out of the car when the driver was approached by a man with a gun who demanded money, said Toohey.

The driver, seeing the man's handgun, reached for his own gun and fired several rounds, hitting the robber in the upper body and face, Toohey said.

Detectives expect to have to use fingerprints to identify the man who was killed, Toohey said. The man was pronounced dead at Sinai Hospital.

The owner of A&B Check Cashing Co. said the injured courier is a retired Baltimore City police officer. However, the courier was not identified yesterday by police, who feared the robber might have had an accomplice.

"We won't identify [the courier] until we know more because it could put him in jeopardy if there's another person involved," Toohey said.

Police said the courier had a permit for a handgun.

Alec Satisky, who owns A&B's 20 branches in the Baltimore-metropolitan area, said yesterday, "My carrier was well-trained and he did what he had to do." Satisky said the courier had worked for the company for several years.

It was unclear whether the couriers were making their stop at the supermarket, which advertises A&B on the front window, or at an A&B branch next to Food Lion, Toohey said.

Both Satisky and the manager of the supermarket referred questions to police. But, Satisky said, "All of my carriers are retired city officers. They're highly skilled and trained and know exactly what to do."

One legal expert said the shooting appears to fall into categories that justify the use of deadly force for self-defense. Under the law, the use of deadly force requires an "honest and reasonable belief of imminent death or serious bodily harm," said Byron L. Warnken, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Although Maryland law also includes "a duty to retreat," Warnken said, there are exceptions, including robberies or cases in which a person cannot retreat safely.

No criminal charges were filed against the courier yesterday.

Police can determine a killing is justified without conferring with prosecutors if the case is clear-cut, said Stephen Bailey, a Baltimore County deputy state's attorney. However, he said, "If they wanted us to review it, we'd probably be able to make a decision within a week or so of receiving the case."

There is no history of shootings or violence at the Woodlawn check-cashing branch, police said. However, in 1992, a customer leaving an A&B Check Cashing branch in West Baltimore was shot and killed by a robber.

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