Police say they are making progress arresting suspects in the string of armed robberies that have plagued the Baltimore area since fall, but still have not captured the ringleaders of the original gang.
Speaking at a news conference at the Pikesville Holiday Inn today, city and Baltimore County police officials, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and County Executive Roger B. Hayden showed photographs of three suspects still being sought in the robberies. They said those already in custody are not talking about their cohorts.
"There's something happening that we're not familiar with," said county Police Chief Cornelius J. Behan.
The news conference was to publicize the Metro Crime Stoppers hot line, 276-8888, which can be used by people with information on the criminals. Callers may remain anonymous, and they can receive up to a $1,000 reward for anyone arrested and indicted in a felony. The Holiday Inn, which was hit Feb. 28 by robbers who shot an assistant manager, has added another $1,000 to the reward.
City Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods said that, in the past month, 13 people have been arrested in the 73 robberies of banks, supermarkets and other businesses in the city and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties. Woods said two of the suspected Holiday Inn robbers are under arrest, but many of the holdups are the work of so-called "copycat" robbers imitating the original five men.
Since Halloween, groups of men, carrying shotguns and semiautomatic handguns, have committed 45 robberies in the city, 23 in Baltimore County and five in Anne Arundel County.
City police spokesman Dennis Hill said police are not sure if a single person is masterminding the robberies.
Of the suspects arrested, three were captured by Baltimore County police and 10 by city police.
Tony M. Bedford, 19, of the 5400 block of Bucknell Road, a suspect in the March 7 robbery of a Towson credit union, is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $1.5 million bail. He uses the alias Sadiyq Abdullah Muhammed.
Eric Wheeler, 29, of the 1100 block of N. Mount St., is being held on $150,000 bail in Baltimore County for his alleged participation the credit union robbery, in which he allegedly took some hostages before he surrendered to police.
Four accomplices fled the credit union with more than $36,000.
Hill said Muhammed and Wheeler appear to be connected.
The other suspects are: Thomas Issac Smith, 25, of the 2600 block of Ridgely St.; Richard Burrell Harris, 35, of the 2600 block of Maisel St.; Kevin D. Jones, 34, of the 100 block of N. Stockton St.; Robert E. McLean, 23, of the 800 block of Barre St.; Phillip M. Williams, 22, of the 2500 block of Fairmount Ave.; Antonio Brewer, 21, of the 200 block of Stonecroft Road; William R. Bullock, 35, of the 3900 block of Woodbridge Road; Kevin Lennard, 32, of the 100 block of Willard St.; Rodney Wagner, 22, of the 100 block of N. Poppleton St.; Ricky Jackson, 28, of the 2500 block of Lombard St.; and Trevor G. Brooks, 33, of the 4800 block of Homer Ave.
Police said Bedford has been charged with 12 robberies in the city -- two robberies of a Hardee's outlet in the 6600 block of Belair Road, Feb. 9 and 23; the Plaza Mini Mart, on Sinclair Lane, March 2; Shoe City, in the 5600 block of The Alameda, March 1; the Pizza King, in the 5900 block of Radecke Ave., Feb. 23; Valu Food, in the 4200 block of Frankford Ave., March 25; Erol's Video store, in the 1600 block of W. North Ave., Jan. 12; a 7-Eleven in the 100 block of E. 25th St., Feb. 11; a McDonald's outlet, in the 700 block of Washington Blvd., Jan. 11; United Iron and Metal Co., in the 2500 block of Wilkens Ave., Jan. 17; Goldberg's, in the 3100 block of W. North Ave., Dec. 22; and a McDonald's outlet in the 2800 block of Greenmount Ave., Feb. 18.
Wheeler has been charged in the following robberies: Feb. 23, at the Hardee's outlet in the 6600 block of Belair Road; Jan. 18, at a McDonald's outlet in the 2800 block of Greenmount Ave.; Feb. 25, at a Giant Food store in the 5900 block of Reisterstown Road.
Of the others accused:
* Smith has been charged in the Feb. 15 robbery of the Super Pride supermarket in the 7000 block of Liberty Road in Baltimore County.
* Harris has been charged with robbing a McDonald's outlet in the 700 block of Washington Blvd., Jan. 27; a McDonald's outlet at 11 W. North Ave., Feb. 3; and a McDonald's in the 3200 block of Frederick Ave., Feb. 8.
* Jones also is charged with the Feb. 8 robbery of the McDonald's outlet on Frederick Avenue and a Feb. 6 holdup of a Super Fresh store in the 2700 block of Foster Ave.
* McClean has been charged in the Super Fresh holdup.
* Williams was arrested Feb. 21 as he left the Hardee's outlet that had just been held up in the 1700 block of Washington Blvd. He also is charged with robbing a White Tower restaurant in the 1800 block of Washington Blvd., Jan. 16; a Kentucky Fried
Chicken outlet in the 3800 block of Wilkens Ave., Jan. 17; Sea Pride, in the 1800 block of W. Pratt St., Jan. 17; and the Hardee's in the 2000 block of Patapsco Ave., Feb. 18.
* Brewer, arrested at a crack cocaine house in West Baltimore during a Feb. 22 raid in which police believed they had broken the robbery ring, was charged with robbing the Super Fresh market in the 600 block of Gorsuch Ave. Six other people were charged with drug violations as a result of the raid.
* Bullock has been charged with robbing Murry's Steaks, in the 2500 block of Monroe St., Jan. 10.
* Lennard was arrested and charged with robbery after a holdup at a Wendy's outlet in the 2300 block of Frederick Ave., police said.
* Wagner has been charged with robberies of the Massey's furniture store, in the 300 block of Eutaw St., Dec. 4; Hans Food, in the 900 block of W. Baltimore St., Jan. 23; the Hardee's outlet in the 1200 block of W. Pratt St., Jan. 25; a 7-Eleven in the 100 block of E. 25th St., Feb. 6; and Popeye's in the 300 block of N. Broadway, Feb. 14.
* Jackson has been charged with the Jan. 28 robbery of the Wendy's outlet in the 2300 block of Frederick Ave.
* Brooks has been charged with the Jan. 17 robbery of an Amoco gas station on Franklin Street.
Hill said it is uncertain how much money was netted in the robberies, but he did say an unspecified amount has been recovered by authorities.
Authorities also have recovered a shotgun, a .45-caliber automatic handgun and a plastic replica of a .38-caliber handgun. "That counts," Hill said of the fake weapon.