Laurel gas station owner shoots, kills would-be robber

Suspect was shot during attempted hold-up, police say

December 28, 2010|By Yeganeh June Torbati, The Baltimore Sun

The owner of a Laurel gas station struggled with, then shot and killed a man who attempted to rob his store early Tuesday, police said.

About 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of a robbery in the 3400 block of Laurel Fort Meade Road at a Quest gas station that is also the site of a Dunkin' Donuts and a Baskin Robbins ice cream store. The station is located on a busy street lined with shops and strip malls.

Based on a preliminary investigation, police said they believe a man entered the store, implied that he had a weapon and demanded money. After a struggle, the 48-year-old store owner shot the would-be robber in the parking lot, said Justin Mulcahy, a police spokesman.

The suspect was taken to a hospital in Prince George's County, where he died Tuesday morning, Mulcahy said. Police were withholding the name of the suspect, 29, pending notification of kin.

Mulcahy declined to say whether the suspect was armed, saying he could not comment on details of an open investigation.

Around noon, a detective was at the gas station talking to a middle-aged man, who asked a reporter to leave. Mulcahy said the man who owns the gas station owns the property, though the doughnut and ice cream shops are owned by franchisees.

"We're going to work closely with the state's attorney's office," Mulcahy said. "No one's been charged at this time."

State records indicate that the property is owned by Fort Meade Speedy Inc. Hasan Maher of Laurel is listed in records as the company's acting agent.

Police initially said that the would-be robber was shot by the owner of the Dunkin' Donuts. But Andrew Mastrangelo, a company spokesman, said that was inaccurate.

"It happened at the gas station that the Dunkin' was in," Mastrangelo said. "No Dunkin' Donuts employee was involved."

Devin Yi, a cashier at the Finish Line Package Liquors across Whiskey Bottom Road from the gas station, said the Dunkin' Donuts cashier who was working Tuesday morning saw the robbery and told him about it.

A man entered the store, "acted like he had a gun, and pointed it at the owner of the gas station," Yi said the cashier told him.

The cashier said he never actually saw a weapon, Yi said. The cashier, who comes into Yi's store every day at the end of his shift, told Yi that the gas station owner gave the man money. The suspect left the store and the owner followed him. Yi said the cashier told him he "heard two gunshots."

Yi said he does not think the area is unsafe.

"I believe they were robbed once before," he said, adding that the liquor store in which he works was robbed about two years ago, "right around the holiday season."

Richard James Ford, 59, a Bowie resident who said he has visited the Baskin Robbins "a thousand times" for his favorite order of butter brickle ice cream, said he arrived before 9 a.m. and saw that police had cordoned off the station with police tape. Two gas pumps at the far end had also been cordoned off, Ford said.

"It's getting worse around here for one reason or another," he said. "I would have done the same thing, if it was my business."

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