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Gas station clerk traps gunman in store Intruder tries shooting his way out; weapon jams


A clerk at a Linthicum gas station trapped an armed man inside the station's convenience store Wednesday as the gunman tried to shoot his way out, county police said. Fortunately for the clerk, the gun jammed.

Police arrived just after the man fled through a rear door, chased him to a nearby restaurant and tackled him.

Jerome Charles Koppleman, 39, of the 800 block of Oregon Ave. in Linthicum was charged with robbery, attempted robbery, robbery with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, illegal possession of a handgun, possession of a firearm as a felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

He was being held without bail at the county Detention Center.

A man wearing a ski mask and wielding a .22-caliber handgun walked into the Citgo station in the 700 block of Hammonds Ferry Road shortly before midnight and demanded money, according to police.

The clerk, Richard Hewitt, 38, of Brooklyn Park, ran out of the front door, turned and held the door shut so the gunman could not get out, police said.

The man pointed the gun at Hewitt and threatened to shoot if he did not open the door, police said. But when the man pulled the trigger, the gun jammed, according to police.

The man tried unsuccessfully to empty the chamber and reload. Then, in apparent frustration, he tore off his ski mask and told Hewitt he was just joking -- all he really wanted was a soda, police said.

The man took a handful of change from his pocket and put it on the counter before running out of a rear door, according to police.

As Officers Michael Edmondson Jr. and Steven Saffield arrived, they saw a man running north behind the gas station across West Nursery Road and behind G & M Carry Out Restaurant in the 800 block of N. Hammonds Ferry Road.

Edmondson tackled the man as he tried to climb a fence, police said.

Officers found a loaded gun nearby with a round in the chamber and the hammer cocked, police said.

Pub Date: 2/07/97

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