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Berkeley Co. pizza shop staff foils man's robbery attempt

June 19, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A Norfolk, Va., man who allegedly attempted to rob a pizza shop in northern Berkeley County on Sunday was dragged from the business after employees wrestled a loaded revolver from his grasp and cut him with a kitchen knife in a scuffle that was captured on video, police said

Dewayne Lamont McGregor, 24, of 9324 First View St., Apt. 3, was in good condition at City Hospital in Martinsburg, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Lt. Gary Harmison said in a news release that McGregor was being guarded at the hospital.

He is charged with four counts of wanton endangerment, four counts of armed robbery, one count of assault during the commission of a felony and one count of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, records show. McGregor is expected to be arraigned in Berkeley County Magistrate Court upon his release from medical care.

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"We were lucky nobody got shot," Paesano's Pizza general manager Eugen Schiriac said in an interview Monday.

Schiriac said a man first pointed the weapon - a Ruger Single Six .22-caliber revolver - at him and his wife outside the business as they were about to make a delivery. The encounter happened about 15 minutes before the three-year-old shop was to close at 10 p.m.

"For some reason, I just didn't want him to get inside," Schiriac said of his initial attempt to stop the man. "I thought he really didn't want to kill anybody. He just wanted the money."

According to police, the man went inside the business and attempted to get an employee to open the cash register.

Police said when the employee told him he didn't know how, the man struck him with the gun on the side of the head, cutting his ear. The cut required eight stitches to close, police said.

The man put the gun to the head of another employee and demanded money from the register, but that demand only instigated a scuffle for the gun, police said. Schiriac said he helped end the scuffle by retrieving the largest knife in the kitchen he could find and "went after him."

Schiriac struck the man at least four times, causing severe cuts to his back, leg and forehead, according to police.

"They were able to get the gun away from (the man), and they dragged him outside where he got up and ran from the scene," according to an arrest warrant signed by Magistrate Jim Humphrey. The man didn't get any money.

Less than 15 minutes after being dispatched to the business, Berkeley County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster said he and West Virginia State Police Trooper J.D. Burkhart found McGregor half-naked from the waist down near Broad Lane about 9:57 p.m.

"He was covered in blood and running right at me," Burkhart said of McGregor.

Lemaster said the grass was "dewy" and that apparently caused McGregor to slip and fall to the ground while they were chasing him.

At the pizza shop, police found the revolver loaded with five unfired rounds and one bullet lodged in the barrel from a sixth shell. It wasn't clear whether the firearm was used in the store.

The robber also left a shoe, a sock and a glove at the business, and a sheriff's deputy later found the matching shoe, a black hoodie, black sweat pants and a pair of boxer shorts near storage buildings at the intersection of Williamsport Pike and Broad Lane. All were covered with blood, according to the warrant.

Authorities said that McGregor received a seven-year prison sentence for a robbery conviction in Norfolk, Va., and had been convicted of using a firearm during the commission of a felony there.

"It was a very interesting evening," Burkhart said.

The case was investigated by Harmison, who is a member of the Sheriff's Department's criminal investigations division.

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