A citizen spotted two men parking a red, Nissan Xterra on the sidewalk in front of Harford Road Liquors early Tuesday just as Dalip Dharam's wife was opening up for business.
"She walked outside and told the guy, 'You cannot park up there. You need to park up in the parking lot.' She was walking back inside (and) the guy put a gun by her neck," said Dharam.
As the citizen flagged down a police officer on routine patrol, inside the store, the would-be robbers demanded money at gunpoint.
"She said, 'You're going to rob me for a couple of pennies?' 'Yes', and that was it," added Dharam.
As the victim began handing over the money, the patrol officer entered the store and came face-to-face with the gunmen.
Police say he fired a single shot prompting one of the suspects to surrender immediately while the other ducked into a cooler until, minutes later, he too gave himself up as other officers arrived on the scene.
"The Baltimore police officer sprang into action and there's no doubt in my mind that if not for this Baltimore police officer, we would have a much, much more serious incident on our hands,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. “So I just can't thank him enough for being at the right place at the right time and acting courageously."
The unidentified suspects were 18 and 21 years of age, and police later learned that the vehicle they had parked in front of the store was reported stolen a few weeks ago.
At a time when critics have suggested police are backing off under increased scrutiny from the community, the high-ranking brass say this officer really stepped up.
"He put himself in harm's way,” said Chief T.J. Smith of Baltimore Police Media Relations. “I know we talk a lot of crap and, you know, a lot of flak, but this is what officers do on a daily basis."
Police are withholding the name of the officer who fired that shot that struck a cooler, but missed the suspects.
He is a 16-year veteran of the department, and as is the case with any police-involved shooting, this one is now under investigation.