‘He Threatened to Kill Me': Masked Men Rob Md. Diner, May Have Caused Massive Crash

A 74-year-old manager at a Laurel, Maryland, diner said he'll be back at work Tuesday night, hours after three masked men pistol-whipped him and robbed the business. Police believe the robbers may have also caused a massive crash on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. 

Joe Fredholm was inside the Tastee Diner with a cook and two customers when the suspects rushed inside about midnight. 

"They were all dressed as ninjas," Fredholm said. 

The suspects forced Fredholm to the floor, held the cook at gunpoint and tried to kick down the office door. 

The suspects eventually let Fredholm get up so he could open the cash register. 

"He threatened to kill me a couple of times," Fredholm said. "He hit me with the bell of his gun twice on the side of the head."

Nothing like this has even happened at the diner, said Fredholm, who is known as Papa Joe and has worked as the night manager at Tastee for more than 30 years.

"Thirty-five years I've been working here, and I've never been robbed," Fredholm said. 

The robbers left with about $400 and a cellphone, an assistant manager at the restaurant said. The men fled in a burgundy BMW and were last seen heading toward Howard County. 

After the robbery, police began receiving calls about an erratic driver in a burgundy BMW in the southbound lanes of the BW Parkway at about 12:30 a.m. According to U.S. Park Police, the erratic driver crashed into at least seven vehicles at a fast speed before getting out of his wrecked car and firing a single shot to scare another driver and steal that car. 

A spokesperson for the City of Laurel said the getaway car from the robbery was among the vehicles at the crash scene on the BW Parkway. 

Police recovered the stolen vehicle in Northeast Washington, but the driver got away. It's not clear whether the other robbers from the diner were involved in the incident on the BW Parkway.

No one was hit by the bullet, but several people were injured in the crashes. All of the injuries are minor, according to Sgt. Anna Rose with U.S. Park Police. 

The southbound lanes of the BW Parkway were closed for several hours while crews removed the vehicles from the scene. 

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call police. 

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