Amid a rash of crimes in South Baltimore, Alexander Wroblewski recently told co-workers that if he were targeted, he wouldn't go down without a fight.
On Tuesday morning, Wroblewski stared down a robber's handgun and resisted — and lost his life.
The 41-year-old Locust Point man had stopped at a Royal Farms store on Key Highway at around 1:15 a.m. Tuesday for a snack of milk and cookies after work. He was followed out of the store and shot to death by an unknown assailant, police said.
The suspect held the door for him.
It was the most serious incident yet in an area where residents have grown increasingly alarmed about violent crime. Just last week, hundreds attended a safety walk in a nearby neighborhood park.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, who visited the scene Tuesday morning as detectives searched for clues, said the suspect and victim had both been customers inside the store.
Wroblewski was shot and killed on the sidewalk outside the new Anthem House apartment complex between Key Highway and Fort Avenue and across from the Southside Marketplace shopping center. The gunman jumped into a vehicle and fled, police said.
"The fact that these perpetrators would prey on someone like they did is indicative of a problem," Davis said. "But Baltimoreans should know the Police Department is dedicated to identifying this small number of perpetrators and holding them accountable for this brazen act."
The incident was one of three shootings across the city Monday night and Tuesday morning. A 38-year-old man was shot in the chest and thigh at North Gay Street and Broadway in East Baltimore, also while trying to get away from a robbery. The man, whose name police did not release, was listed in serious condition at a local hospital.
A 68-year-old man was shot in the leg at Jefferson Street and Highland Avenue in Southeast Baltimore, police said. He was in critical but stable condition Tuesday.
More than 300 people have been killed in Baltimore for the third straight year.
Davis and other police leaders, City Councilman Eric Costello and members of the community recently participated in a crime walk in response to a series of violent incidents in South Baltimore.
Most of those incidents involved juveniles, and opened up a debate about how to address youth crime.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said last week that crime in the city was "out of control," and directed more than half of the city's 55 departments to report to daily meetings with police to strategize how they all can help reduce the violence.
Costello represents South Baltimore.
"We need to continue to do everything humanly possible to rid our city of violent crime," he said Tuesday. "We need more police officers on the street. ... Every neighborhood wants to see police officers, and every neighborhood is entitled to police officers to let them know they're safe."
Police could be seen Tuesday morning inside the Anthem House lobby, where they were gathering surveillance footage. A crime scene technician photographed a bag from Royal Farms that lay on the sidewalk.
Anthem House management declined to comment. A manager at the Royal Farms store declined to comment Tuesday night.
Wroblewski worked at the Rowhouse Grille on Light Street, and was well known around South Baltimore. A group of people gathered outside his Locust Point home said his family did not want to speak to a reporter.
A picture of Wroblewski, known as "Albo," was posted on the door of the Rowhouse Grille. Chef Tess Mosley said employees were stunned by the news.
"He was a very kind, kind soul," Mosley said. "He was full of integrity."
In a statement, the restaurant called Wroblewski "an exceptional individual and could always be relied upon to help his friends and colleagues. If more people were as thoughtful, caring and personable as Albo was, the world would be a better place."
During a recent discussion about crime in the neighborhood, Mosley said, Wroblewski said he "would go down fighting" if attacked.
"He said, 'They're not going to take my stuff.' "
Mosley said there has been "zero police presence" in the neighborhood. She said criminals believe "they can do whatever they want."
Local radio personality Scott Reardon, one of the hosts of the 98 Rock morning show, said he met Wroblewski 12 years ago "and instantly recognized what a kind soul he was."
"This city is broken!!" Reardon posted on social media. "This senseless violence needs to stop!!!!!"
Homicides in the Riverside and Locust Point neighborhoods are rare. The last killing in either neighborhood was in Locust Point in 2010, when a man was killed by acquaintances in the basement of a home.
That killing occurred in the basement of a home owned by Wroblewski's mother, where Wroblewski was living at the time of his death. Police said the Wroblewskis were not involved in the 2010 killing, and there was no known connection between the 2010 killing and Alex Wroblewski's death on Tuesday.
Locust Point has experienced only one robbery this year, in February, according to police. Nineteen robberies have been reported in Riverside this year, six since late September.
Anyone with information pertaining to any of these shootings was asked to call police at (410) 396-2221, Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP, or text a tip to the BPD Mobile App.
Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.