Man convicted of shooting salon owner in head during robbery

A 35-year-old man faces life plus nearly 50 years in prison after being convicted of attempted murder for forcing the owner of a Northeast Baltimore hair salon to kneel on a bathroom floor and shooting her at least twice in the head during a robbery.

Malcolm Anthony Pulliam is scheduled to be sentenced April 5. A jury found him guilty of five charges — including gun violations — related to the May 4, 2010, shooting inside the Blessed Productions Hair Salon in the 6600 block of Belair Road.

The then-32-year-old victim survived and testified at the trial, which concluded Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court. Pulliam, a resident of the first block of Boarman Ave. in Northwest Baltimore, has been charged in an unrelated rape and is scheduled for trial in that case in March.

The attack at the hair salon about 11 a.m. on a Tuesday unnerved residents and shopkeepers along a busy stretch of Belair Road just south of the county line near the Overlea Diner and across the street from a post office.

At the time, police said the victim had suffered a graze wound to the head. Prosecutors, however, portrayed the crime as far more brutal, saying the woman had been shot in the head four times. Pulliam's attorney said four shots were fired, and the victim was struck twice.

In a statement from the city state's attorney's office, prosecutors said Pulliam walked into the hair salon, pointed a handgun at the owner and demanded she open the safe. There was no safe, so the owner took money from her purse and gave it to the gunman, according to the statement.

"Pulliam then led the victim to the restroom located in the rear of the business, ordered her to kneel on the ground, shot her in the head four times and ran away," the statement said. "Remarkably, the victim managed to make it to a neighboring business to ask for help.

"Not only did she survive," prosecutors said, "she also served as the primary witness against Pulliam."

Pulliam's attorney, David I. Weinstein, said his client denies robbing or shooting the victim. The lawyer said prosecutors had only one witness — the owner — and that police never found a weapon.

Weinstein said Pulliam's ex-girlfriend had once worked for the victim.

The victim, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, took the witness stand and again identified Pulliam as her attacker. "She was very emotional and rightly so," Weinstein said. "Nobody is denying that this happened to her. It was a terrible robbery. But Mr. Pulliam maintains he did not do it."

The small shopping center where the salon is located has seen previous violence. In 1989, a gunman walked into a pharmacy and demanded money. The drugstore owner took out his own 9 mm handgun and fired twice. One bullet hit the hooded gunman in his buttock as he ran; another went through a wall and hit the owner of a pizza shop in the head, killing him on his 32nd birthday.

Pulliam was arrested and charged in the robbery in July 2010. In October of that year, while in jail awaiting trial, police charged him with the 2005 attack on a 17-year-old girl who authorities said was raped behind a community center in Rosedale.

A police report says the teenager got into an unlicensed taxi, called a hack, about 3:50 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2005. Police said the driver took her from the 2100 block of Belair Road in Northeast Baltimore to the community center in the 8200 block of Old Philadelphia Road, just off Pulaski Highway.

Police said the attacker "dragged the victim behind the center and raped her."

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