A woman delivering pizza at a Columbia village apartment complex was forced to her knees and shot in the back of the head last night after a robbery that netted $40, Howard County police and the victim's boss said.
After the shooting in the parking lot of the Harper's Forest Apartments, a co-worker who was helping the woman drove her across the street to Howard County General Hospital.
Police said the woman, whose name was not released last night, was taken by ambulance to Baltimore's Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she was listed in serious and stable condition last night.
"When I heard about it, I was breaking down in tears," said John Nix, the assistant manager at the Papa John's Pizza store on Harper's Farm Road. He described the victim as "a nice person" who worked well in a team setting and "always cared for everybody else."
Police statistics show that Harper's Choice, site of the shooting, has become one of the most crime-stricken villages in James W. Rouse's 31-year-old planned community.
Two shootings during a September weekend -- a 17-year-old boy robbed of $100 and shot on a footpath and a 38-year-old man shot a block away -- prompted community members to form a task force to address the rise in crime. Police have made arrests in those cases.
Last night's robbery and shooting was "a definite setup," said Howard County Police Lt. Greg Marshall. Police reported no arrests in the case and had only a scant description of the robbers.
The incident began when a Papa John's Pizza received an order totaling $81.05. Police said they were trying to trace the call's location.
Robbed of cash
Police said the order was to be delivered to a basement apartment in the 6100 block of Turnabout Lane, about a three-minute drive. Because the order was large, two employees -- a man and a woman -- delivered it about 7 p.m.
They received no answer when they knocked on the door. Marshall said two armed robbers appeared and forced them into a laundry room and robbed them of cash -- their employer said they each had $20 -- and other belongings. Police said the victims were then forced out to the parking lot, where the two robbers tried to abduct them.
Marshall said that when the woman cried for help, one of the gunmen forced her to her knees and shot her in the back of the head "from a very close distance."
A resident, Enrique Jaramillo, said he heard one gunshot, ran to his window and saw two men running away.
Nix said he stopped the night delivery service after the shooting but the store would be open this morning at 10. He said the district manager would talk to employees today.
Asked if he might consider quitting his job, fearing for his safety, Nix said he was too upset to decide.
"I need time to think about it," he said. "It's going to take time. I would like a couple days off, but I don't think I'm going to get it."
He said workers fear for their safety.
"It could happen to anybody," he said.
Pub Date: 1/02/99