The two robbers burst into the South Baltimore strip club just before closing time early yesterday morning.
The pair demanded money. One aimed a shotgun at the ceiling and fired a round, the other brandished a handgun.
Among the 20 or so patrons still at Fantasies Nightclub were two city police officers, just off their 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift in the Southern District. Both drew their service weapons to break up the 2 a.m. robbery -- one robber died in the subsequent shootout, the other was injured. No one else was hurt.
Police are attempting to identify the dead man by using his fingerprints. The other suspect, Alex Reiff, 24, of Reston, Va., was shot in the arm and hand and taken to a hospital, police said.
"They were very heavily armed," said Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, who noted that Reiff also wore body armor.
Both officers were placed on routine administrative duty, Jablow said. There was no indication that alcohol affected the judgment of either officer, he said.
Baltimore officers are required to carry their service weapons while in the city, even when off duty. There is an exception to the rule if officers believe they will be doing something during which carrying a gun would be inappropriate -- such as playing basketball, swimming or drinking alcohol to the point where they expect to become intoxicated.
The club is in a gritty, industrial stretch off Pennington Avenue in Curtis Bay, across the street from an asphalt-and-chemical company, and easily accessible from the highway.
The large, two-story brick building is discreet. A faint pink neon sign on the building says "Fantasies," a purple one beckons from the entrance. A pay phone stands in front of the building, a barbecue pit in the back.
Less than 12 hours after the fatal shooting, the club remained open, its large parking lot filled with more than 20 cars, including a Jaguar and a Mercedes. A Miller Lite truck delivered beer to the establishment, which serves alcohol and food.
A bartender passed out a paper saying: "Any statements regarding the incident will be released through the Baltimore police. There will be no comments from management or employees. We appreciate your understanding through this difficult circumstance."
The club's Web site advertises events such as a showing of an ultimate-fighting Shootout on Saturday, titled "Fight Night XII," hosted by former Baltimore City Police Commissioner Ed Norris, now of 105.7 WHFS, and First Fridays with Kirk Mc- Ewan, also of WHFS.
According to city records, Kimmico Inc. owns the club. The three owners of record are listed as Frank Shaulis of Baltimore, Marc Rosenberg of Owings Mills and Lorraine M. Cummings of Pikesville. None could be reached for comment yesterday.
The club has not been the scene of any major crime in the past. But in April 2003, the body of a 17-year-old who had been shot in the head was dumped in a ravine behind the club. In December 2002, someone broke into the club through the front door and removed an undisclosed sum of money from a safe and an automated teller machine.
In its last inspection report, from Sept. 16, 2005, a city inspector remarked "Very clean. Good job."
City police are trying to determine if the robbery is linked to a similar robbery and shooting that occurred at a Glen Burnie restaurant 10 days ago.
In that instance, two men -- one with a shotgun and one with a handgun -- held up a Wendy's shortly after lunchtime. One man shot a customer who interrupted the robbery as he came out of a restroom. The customer was shot three times in the face but survived.
The two gunmen fled in a stolen minivan that was traced to Prince George's County. They ditched that car in a nearby neighborhood and got away in a second minivan.