BALITMORE — Two people were killed and one injured in a shooting at a Royal Farms convenience store and gas station in Essex just before 7 a.m. Sunday, Baltimore County police said.
About 15 minutes later, police were called to an apartment complex five minutes away for a report of a fire and a person shot.
Police said a body was found in the parking lot of the Hartland Ridge complex along Shadetree Road and the gunshot wound appeared to be self-inflicted. One apartment in the complex was severely burned.
Police are still investigating whether the two incidents are connected.
Sunday morning, employees of the Royal Farms gathered outside the store’s back entrance along Back River Neck Road as rain poured down. Out front, police clustered around a parked car, covered with a sheet and tent, where one body was found. The other was located inside the store.
Across the street, locals Jodie Oxenrider, 33, and Suzanne Hamilton, 36, anxiously scanned the scene. They called a Royal Farms employee they knew, desperate to hear who had been shot and who had survived.
“All of us know the people in here,” Hamilton said. “It’s all the same employees all the time.”
Oxenrider said she lives in the Hartland Ridge complex where the fire took place, and she heard fire alarms and sirens after she woke up around 6 a.m. She decided to walk to the Royal Farms nearby to buy a pack of cigarettes. When she got there, the store was roped off with caution tape and police vehicles filled the parking lot.
“It’s crazy because my daughter was asleep when I woke up, and I was going to come up here while she was asleep,” Oxenrider said. “I’m so glad I didn’t because I would have been in there.”
Brandon Thompson, 31, lives in the apartment complex across from the Royal Farms.
He said he saw his neighbor warming up her car to leave for work before driving to the convenience store.
That’s when Thompson heard the shots and peered out of his upstairs window at the scene. Thompson said he saw a man exit the store and toss a gun aside, before picking it up again and shooting his neighbor, who was parked in front of the store.
“She never got out of her car,” Thompson said.
“She only goes to the Royal Farms to get a soda.”