7-Eleven manager blames stolen money on 'flash mob'

Police investigating, but find no evidence to cash theft

May 24, 2012|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

The owner of a downtown 7-Eleven that was attacked by a mob of youths drawn by a free Slurpee promotion says an envelope filled with the day's receipts — $6,600 in cash — went missing during the melee, according to Baltimore police.

Salman Iqbal told police that the money was in his front right shirt pocket while he was being attacked Wednesday afternoon after he confronted up to 40 youths wearing yellow school shirts and khaki pants. He reported that some youths had stolen candy from the store on Light Street, near the Inner Harbor.

Police said they are continuing to investigate, but surveillance video does not show anyone going through Iqbal's pockets during the altercation. "Therefore, it is undetermined when and how during … the incident the deposit envelope was taken," the police report says.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, "The video shows exactly what the kids did. ... It does not show them going through his pockets. They stole candy. There is a minor assault. The other part, the cash part, is still open."

Guglielmi said detectives on Thursday identified those involved as students from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical Senior High School on Hillen Road in Northeast Baltimore. A school spokeswoman said officials are investigating the incident and would not comment further.

No arrests had been made by Thursday, but police said they have identified suspects in the assault.

Iqbal, 32, who lives in Carroll County, could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for 7-Eleven declined to comment on the missing money.

The disturbance was the latest in a string of downtown attacks involving groups of teens and young adults. On St. Patrick's Day, for example, hundreds swarmed streets in and near the Inner Harbor, fighting each other and prompting police from across the city to be called in restore order. Early the next morning, a tourist was attacked, robbed and stripped naked outside the courthouse on Calvert Street.

Earlier this month, a student from Polytechnic Institute told police he was beaten by two separate groups of juveniles wearing rival Digital Harbor High School shirts near the downtown 1st Mariner Arena.

Wednesday's disturbance began shortly before 1:30 p.m., as Iqbal was about to leave to deposit money in a bank. Police said 35 to 40 youths came in to get free Slurpees, and while they were being served, another group came in "and were observed taking candy from the shelves and placing it inside their pants pockets," according to the report.

Iqbal walked to the front door to block their exit, but police said the youths who took the candy got away. "The juveniles that the owner stopped at the door were just getting the free Slurpees that 7-Eleven was offering to the customers," the police report says. "The owner was assaulted on their effort to exit the store."

Police said the youths became angry and beat Iqbal, punching him in the mouth and repeatedly hitting him on his arms and neck. Police said the youths forced their way out of the store and scattered. It was then, Iqbal said, that he noticed the envelope with the money missing from his pocket.

A spokeswoman for 7-Eleven, Margaret Chabris, said that store owners and managers are taught to take unruly crowds "very seriously" and are warned that giveaways, such as the Slurpee promotion, can trigger such attacks.


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