WESTMINSTER, Md. - 24 hours after a man entered the Carroll Mart on East Main Street and demanded money at gunpoint, nearby residents like Ryan Marlowe are left wondering exactly when such big city crime arrived in the small town of Westminster.
"It's unsettling living right across the street from that... so... I don't know," said Marlowe.
Just a few blocks away on East Green Street, Police Chief Jeff Spaulding says gunfire has erupted twice in the last week adding to those concerns.
"I do believe that the two shootings... it appears from the information we have thus far that they're drug-related and it involved perhaps two rival drug organizations and we're investigating those aspects now," said Spaulding, "Often times it's been elements coming in from outside the community and often times it's been related to drugs, and we believe that's the case here."
Outside elements or not, the sheriff is now bringing in reinforcements to address this sudden spike in violent crimes.
"There may be concerns about safety in the community so I've reached out to our partners here in Carroll County, the Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police, and in both cases they've been very willing to provide additional resources to us,” said Spaulding, “We've brought in additional marked cars and uniformed police officers as well as plain-clothes officers and we have been focusing in the area of town where these incidents happened."
It is a move welcomed by those in the newfound hot zone, where a turf war, open drug dealing and a commercial armed robbery in the last week may point to a growing trend police want to turn around while they still can.
"It really doesn't surprise me,” said Marlowe, “I'm hearing more and more about these things happening and it's really unsettling. I don't know what to make of it."