Yesterday morning, Michael Chapman left two red and white floral arrangements on the lawn of the Farmers Bank in Randallstown as an expression of sympathy for the two tellers killed during Monday's robbery.
But the sign outside Chapman Garden less than a mile down the road is a message of anger and revenge: "Capital Punishment for the Murderers."
"That sign is like a scream from the highest mountain for Mike," said Millie Restivo, greenhouse manager at the garden center. "He is so soft spoken and quiet . . . I guess it's Mike's way of fighting back."
For years, Mr. Chapman made daily trips to the bank in the 9800 block of Liberty Road. Yesterday, he held back tears as he remembered joking with a few of the tellers about an hour before Monday's robbery.
"I never thought I was an emotional person," he said, walking in circles just inside the garden center's front entrance. "I guess I am."
"You feel like going out . . . and shooting the guys," he said, "but that wouldn't solve anything. They haven't even had a trial yet. Maybe they're not guilty."
Commercial robberies have shown a steady climb along the Liberty Road corridor since 1989, to 100 so far this year, up from 60 three years ago, police say.
"It's not unusual to have robberies on Liberty Road, but the majority of them take place down closer to the Beltway," said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, police spokesman. "The farther out you get on Liberty Road or any of our major corridors, the less likely it is to have a robbery."
For the merchants along Liberty Road near the bank, the murders brought feelings of shock, outrage and helplessness.
Two women working at Hair By Bren-Dia, across the street from the bank in the Marriottsville Plaza, had the door locked yesterday. They buzzed in individual customers.
"Normally, we only use [the buzzer] in the evenings," said Tara Mahoney. "But we'll be using it during the day now, I'm sure."
Bill Lee, operations manager of Monarch Auto Parts in Marriottsville Plaza, said, "There's never been anything like this in the area. . . . We've been hit several times by break-ins, where they'd take computer systems and change . . . but we've never had an attempted robbery, or theft that we know of."
Trying to keep your business safe, he said, isn't always possible.
"There's nothing that nobody can teach you when somebody sticks a pistol in your belly and says, 'Give me your money,' " he said.
Betty Triplett, a partner at Liberty Laundromat, is making at least one change as a result of the killings. She's getting a gun. Her customer, Becky Husak, doubted a gun would help. "What happens if four of them come in with guns?" she asked. "Are you really going to have time to get yours?"
Will Quatman, manager of Ben Pilla Speed Shop on Liberty Road says that on several occasions the amount of crime has made him consider buying a gun. Friends who are police officers convinced him a gun probably won't help much during an armed robbery.
"So I let it go," he said.
Having watched the bank for years, Mr. Quatman said he's not surprised it was targeted for robbery.
"You hardly ever see anyone go in there," he said. "They're so isolated."
Thomas Whitcomb, owner of the Amoco station across the street from the bank, attributes much of the area's crime to an increase in drug trafficking.
"I find a lot of drug paraphernalia all over the place," he said. "In the phone booth, in the bathroom . . . that telephone booth is the biggest money-maker they got," he added, pointing to the booth between his station and Marriottsville Plaza.