The night manager of a Pikesville motel was listed in serious condition today at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore after being shot during a robbery that police believe was one of four committed by the same gang of heavily armed men in a span of four hours.
Area police said that while the robberies yesterday were believed to have been committed by the same men, they probably are not the gunmen who have terrorized city and county businesses since Halloween night, when the first of more than 20 armed robberies of restaurants and food markets began.
Besides the Pikesville motel, police said the robbers hit a downtown bank at 2 p.m., a credit corporation in Hunt Valley at 4 p.m. and a Woodlawn auto dealership at 5:30 p.m. In each of yesterday's robberies, the armed bandits were well-dressed and carried semiautomatic pistols and a revolver.
During the other robberies, at least one man and sometimes twwere armed with shotguns.
Police said the bandits that struck yesterday may be copying earlier holdups committed by another gang.
A spokeswoman at Shock-Trauma said Robert McNeil, 34, the wounded night clerk of the Holiday Inn in the 1700 block of Reisterstown Road, was improving after emergency abdominal surgery and was in serious but stable condition.
Police said McNeil was the only victim of the string of robberies to be shot, but that at least four other people were struck by guns when they moved too slowly when ordered to give up money from safes or cash registers.
Yesterday's robberies began about 2 p.m. in the city when three men armed with 9mm semiautomatic handguns burst into the Carrollton Bank of Baltimore branch in the first block of W. Saratoga St. and announced a holdup.
Police said while one gunman stood at the front door and held an employee at gunpoint, a second vaulted the counter and scooped up large sums of money from several teller stations while pushing the frightened tellers away with the guns.
With a large amount of money in a duffel bag they carried with them, the three men left the bank and were fleeing when dye packs hidden with the money exploded, staining the money with a red dye.
Dropping the bag and dye-stained money, the three men continued running and escaped, despite the arrival of several police in less than two minutes.
About 4 p.m., four men armed with handguns and fitting the descriptions of the bank robbers entered the Hunt Valley office of the General Motors Acceptance Corp. in the 200 block of Schilling Circle and forced about 30 employees to lie on the floor.
Police said that in less than five minutes the gunmen had robbed the firm of several thousand dollars, but not before they struck one male employee over the head with a gun and kicked a female worker in the abdomen.
Police said the male employee was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, where his head wound was closed with several stitches. He was later released.
The woman was not seriously injured.
At 5:30 p.m., two gunmen walked into the Imperial Pontiac-Nissan dealership in the 1700 block of Woodlawn Drive and ordered two office employees to open the safe.
Police said that when the employees were not quick enough or hesitated, they were struck with the weapons. Neither was seriously injured.
Rather than involve any other dealership employees, police said, the gunmen, one of whom had "Loverboy" printed on the back of his jacket, fled and were seen running behind the W. Bell & Co. building on Security Boulevard, where they entered a car and drove off.
While police broadcast a lookout for the robbery suspects, three men armed with handguns entered the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Pikesville at 6 p.m. and ordered three employees standing behind the front desk to open the safe.
Police said when the terrorized employees were unable to work the combination with guns pointed at them, one of the weapons discharged, grazing one female employee in the side.
Police said the bullet made a welt-like mark on her side, but continued on and hit McNeil in the abdomen.
Unable to open the safe and with a seriously wounded man lying on the floor, the three men fled and apparently drove off in more than one get-away car.
Police said it was not immediately known if the bandits took time to remove money from the desk cash register before fleeing.
McNeil was flown to Shock-Trauma. Police said the woman was treated at the scene.
"There were 15 elderly people in the lobby and they were all shook up," said Cpl. Thomas McCreer of the communications division.
Before the holdups began, six ministers from the United Baptist Missionary Convention of Maryland visited the Giant Food store in the 5900 block of Reisterstown Road and the Valu Food store on Frankford Avenue, which were robbed Monday, to offer support to management.
At Giant, the Revs. Emmett Burns, Carl L. Washington and Aggie L. Brown Sr. apologized and told a general manager that the majority of the black community doesn't support these bandits.
"We want to live in Baltimore City and not Dodge City," thministers said. They encouraged people with information about the robberies to call police or contact a minister.
Jim Myed, a general manager at Giant, told the ministers the robbers were "very professional" and seemed to be watching a clock. "One of the guys yelled 'time' and they went out the door," Myed said.
Myed said workers and customers have banded together to support the "neighborhood store."
"We don't want anybody to be afraid to come and shop with us," Myed said.
At the salad bar, Charlie Hardin, 49, said he wasn't afraid. But, he said, "It's sad. Now you can't even go in a market anymore."