Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Deli owner chases two robbers, wounds one before they escape City police arrest suspects after one goes to hospital.


The owner of a northeast Baltimore delicatessen exchanged gunfire yesterday with two men who had just robbed his delicatessen, wounding one of them.

Police later arrested and charged two men after one went to a hospital for treatment of bullet wounds.

Virasak Yangsomcheen, the owner of the store, Elmora Delicatessen in the 3300 block of Elmora Ave., was not injured.

Police said two men entered the deli about 5:30 p.m. and ordered several children outside. One pointed a handgun at Mr. Yangsomcheen and told him to give them the contents of the cash register.

"This is really very scary when you look down and see a gun pointed at you," Mr. Yangsomcheen said today.

Mr. Yangsomcheen, 37, who came to this country 15 years ago from Thailand and is now a U.S. citizen, said one of the bandits forced him to lie on the floor and placed a handgun to his head.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. "I work 70 hours a week to feed my family. I thought about them when I was on the floor and how could they live if I was killed there in my store."

After taking an undisclosed sum of cash, the men ran out of the store.

Police said Mr. Yangsomcheen got a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun from under his counter and chased them.

In the 3300 block of Elmley Ave., two blocks from the deli, the owner fired several shots at the fleeing robbers, wounding one.

Police said one robber returned fire and at least a dozen shots were exchanged.

Witnesses told police they saw the wounded man remove his blood-stained shirt before both men got into a cab. An hour later, police went to the emergency room at Johns Hopkins Hospital and arrested two men, one of whom had been shot in the left shoulder and left foot.

After he was treated, the wounded man, Craig Anthony Kirby, 21, of the 1800 block of N. Port St., was charged with armed robbery, assault with intent to kill, and a handgun violation.

Charged with the same offenses was Maurice Gant, 19, of the 2100 block of E. North Ave.

Police said both were held overnight at the Southeastern District lockup.

The store owner said he shot another man who robbed his store eight years ago. Mr. Yangsomcheen was extremely critical of the criminal justice system, which he says did not punish that robber.

"The robber I shot eight years ago was caught with a gun, the money he stole, everything," Mr. Yangsomcheen said.

"But he hardly spent a day in jail and got probation."

State's Attorney Stuart Simms said today that yesterday's case would be studied and that a decision on possible charges against Mr. Yangsomcheen would be made in about 10 days.

"I'm concerned about the robbery attempt with weapons," Mr. Simms said. "But I'm also equally concerned about the usage of firearms outside the store."

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