2nd robbery in month fuels fear at shopping plaza


The second bank robbery in less than a month at Pastore's Plaza has some merchants worried about safety, although others at the Pasadena shopping center point to quick police action in making arrests.

Two men were arrested after Wednesday's robbery of the Atlantic Federal Savings Bank in the 3800 block of Mountain Road. A third suspect remains at large.

"When I actually heard the shot of a gun, I though about getting another job. I mean, I've got a baby to think about," said Christina Fremd, who works at Cleaning by Chris, a dry cleaner in the plaza.

Ms. Fremd was referring to the single shot bank manager Patrick Lansey fired into the air as he chased the robbers around the back of the plaza. Police have not charged Mr. Lansey for firing his weapon.

"We had the back door open today, and I felt like I constantly had to watch my back," said Ms. Fremd. "When a car went past, I jumped."

She is not the only one extra cautious at work. The back door to European Image stays closed, said Robin Dawson. The shop's hairstylists are more careful about where they park.

"We parked out back, and we don't want to do that anymore," Ms. Dawson said. "It's daytime, but you never know where somebody's going to be hiding . . ."

Wednesday's robbery occurred about 11:30 a.m., when two men, one of them armed, entered the bank. Witnesses told police one suspect gave a teller $100 in small bills and asked for a $100 bill. After a brief discussion, the suspect jumped over the counter while his accomplice held a gun on the other tellers and customers.

Police from the nearby Eastern District station arrested one man sitting in a car across the street from the bank. Another was flushed out of the woods six hours later. A warrant has been issued for Byron Lester Smoot, 34, of the 400 block of Townsend Ave. in Brooklyn.

Employees of Country Peddler said they don't think the recent activity is cause for alarm.

"I feel safe," said owner Patsy Plowman. She said she didn't think there was a particular reason that robbers had hit the bank twice in one month and that she didn't find anything peculiar about it.

"Banks are getting hit everywhere," she said. "You read about it in the paper -- Glen Burnie and Crain Highway."

On Aug. 9, two men walked into Atlantic Federal, rifled the cash drawers and fled. Two arrests were made minutes later.

Co-worker Edith Robinson agreed that she was not concerned about safety. The police station is 250 yards from the plaza.

"We're glad to see that [the police] are catching them," she said. "They didn't get away. That's nice to know. Police are doing their job."

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