Gunmen hit restaurant next to FOP lodge

For police, a robbery strikes close to home

May 03, 2007|By Nick Shields | Nick Shields,sun reporter

Two men, at least one of them carrying a shotgun, chose an unlikely target yesterday for a robbery: a Baltimore County restaurant that happens to be next door to a Fraternal Order of Police lodge.

One employee of the Bowman Restaurant and Pub escaped and ran to the FOP lodge, where a retired county police officer quickly called 911. Officers descended upon the restaurant within minutes and sent a tactical squad inside on the chance that at least one robber might have been inside.

Both robbers got away, leaving a cardboard box with dollar bills on the ground behind the restaurant, police said.

The robbers had entered the restaurant, on Harford Road in the Carney area, about 9:30 a.m. while the employees were preparing the business for lunchtime customers. The robbers demanded money. One employee dashed to the Baltimore County FOP Lodge No. 4 lodge next door.

There, Lawrence R. Sibley, an office manager and retired Baltimore County police officer, was doing paperwork.

"He was all shook up," Sibley said of the employee. "He said there were robbers in the store with shotguns."

Sibley said he immediately dialed 911.

Soon after, he said, police arrived and the restaurant worker went outside.

"I went back out and brought him back in," he said. "I didn't know if these guys were running around here."

The stretch of Harford Road near the restaurant was blocked off for more than two hours as police searched the area for the robbers. No arrests were immediately made. The five restaurant employees who were in the building during the robbery were unhurt.

Baltimore County Police spokesman Bill Toohey said two women and one man were forced into the restaurant's freezer at gunpoint by one of the robbers. Shortly after noon, the road reopened. The restaurant reopened at 4:30 p.m.

The spokesman said the police crime lab found fingerprints at the scene, but it was unclear yesterday whether they belonged to the robbers. Toohey said crime lab officials took photographs and collected additional evidence found at the scene, but he declined to reveal what else was found.

The Bowman Restaurant and Pub restaurant had been robbed in July. In that incident, a gunman entered the restaurant shortly after midnight and forced an employee to hand over the items in a cash register.

The restaurant, which has been in business since 1973, received about 20 calls early yesterday afternoon from concerned customers, said Robin Freter, an office manager at the restaurant. She said the employees were sent home early.

Toohey said yesterday afternoon it was unclear how much cash the robbers took, and that the investigation continues.

Detectives had not identified suspects, and did not have detailed descriptions of the robbers yesterday evening, Toohey said.

nicholas.shields@baltsun.com

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