Would-be robbers fire shots inside two Md. businesses, but get no cash

One of the surveillance shots of the robbery suspects at the Cabin John CVS. Photo: Montgomery County Police

POTOMAC, Md. (WJLA) - Two armed men held up a CVS Pharmacy in Potomac early Wednesday morning. The brazen crime has led Montgomery County Police to believe there may be a pair of serial armed robbers targeting local businesses.

Around 3:51 a.m., officers were called to the 24/7 pharmacy located at 7955 Tuckerman Lane. Police say the two men walked into the store, brandished a handgun and demanded money from an employee working the midnight shift. The suspects suddenly ran outside without taking a penny. An employee followed the two outside, presumably to look for a getaway car, when the suspect with the handgun fired one shot. Luckily, no one was hit.

"In this community? I'm shocked to hear that. To think you could be walking into CVS one day and you might potentially not come out, that's a scary, scary situation," CVS customer Zara Cheema said.

The store, which is located near the middle of the well-traveled Cabin John Shopping Center, is equipped with roughly two dozen security cameras. A sticker is also plastered to the front door. It reads: "This store is visited regularly by the local police department for the safety of our customers and employees."

"This being a 24-hour CVS, this is a very important part of our community. So it's kind of scary, especially since it doesn't happen here. This is a very safe area," Potomac resident Jinhee Wilde, who shopped at CVS less than eight hours before the robbery, said.

Detectives say the CVS hold-up is strikingly similar to a Tuesday morning armed robbery at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Rockville. In that case, police say two men walked into the bank lobby, ordering employees to hand over money. Surveillance cameras caught one suspect vaulting a teller counter, while the other fired a warning shot into the ceiling. Despite the dramatic display, the duo ran off without taking any cash.

"It's unusual to have that kind of crime. Although we can't conclusively say these cases are related, the similarities have caught our attention and we're looking to connect those two," Capt. James Daly with the Montgomery County Police Dept. said.

If connected, the robbers are currently 0-2 when it comes to snagging cash. That statistic has investigators worried they will strike again. Montgomery County Police tell ABC7 News street patrols are being boosted in certain parts of the county with officers paying particularly attention to banks and strip malls.

"Certainly it concerns us that not only was a weapon displayed in these cases, but a weapon was fired. Our detectives are working very hard to solve these crimes," Capt. Daly added.

There have five armed robberies at Montgomery County businesses in the last two weeks: TD Bank in Germantown on Oct. 15, Capital One Bank in Gaithersburg on Oct. 25, SunTrust Bank in Rockville on Oct. 29, Wells Fargo Bank in Rockville on Oct. 29, and the CVS Pharmacy in Potomac on Oct. 30. While police don’t believe they're all connected, the list is still unnerving for residents.

"It goes to show you nobody's immune. We still have to do our banking, we still have to go to the grocery store, and if this can happen in a public place that's this popular, where does one feel safe," CVS customer Joann Constantinou remarked.

Wednesday afternoon, police released three still photos of the suspects in the CVS robbery. While their faces are tough to make out, detectives hope their fairly unique clothing generates leads.

The first suspect is described as a black man in his twenties. He was wearing a black baseball cap with white insignia, a black hooded sweatshirt with a gray logo, camouflage pants, black tennis shoes and a fake beard.

The second suspect is described as a black man his twenties. He was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and a black ski mask.

Anyone with information should call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest and/or indictment. Tipsters can remain anonymous.