A Laurel restaurant employee got a shock Thursday morning when she reported to work and discovered a man who tried to break into the eatery trapped inside the building’s cooking ventilation system.
Prince George’s County public safety officials said the man was trapped for up to eight hours inside the ventilation duct in a Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, located at 9711 Fort Meade Road.
The man, who has not been identified by police, apparently entered the restaurant through a hatch on the roof but got stuck at the bottom of the ventilation duct, where he was found with his legs hanging out the bottom of the duct, said Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.
“[The man] asked for help, and the employee got scared because someone was inside the store and called police,” said restaurant owner Nasir Gilliani.
Firefighters responded to the restaurant at around 9:30 a.m. The man had complained of trouble breathing, so paramedics provided an oxygen mask through the same vent by which he had entered before rescue workers cut away a ventilation hood to free him.
The operation required 25 firefighters and medics who worked for 40 minutes, Mr. Brady said.
There were signs of an attempted forced entry on the restaurant’s back door, said Mr. Gilliani, who thinks the man may have first tried to enter his restaurant by more conventional means.
The suspect, who is in his 30s, was taken to an area hospital for a medical evaluation after complaining of difficulty breathing. He will later be transferred to Prince George’s County’s Department of Corrections on breaking-and-entering charges, said county police spokeswoman Cpl. Erica Johnson.