An armored security car employee narrowly escaped a bullet to the head Saturday morning after he made a money pickup at Citadel Mall in West Ashley.

The Brink's Inc. employee was leaving the building about 11:30 a.m. when a gunman approached him, robbed him and fired one shot at him, police said. The bullet grazed his head, Charleston police legal adviser Mark Bourdon said. The man was treated and released from a hospital.

The gunman was black, had dreadlocks and was about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 150 pounds. He left as a passenger in a getaway vehicle. Police would not describe the vehicle or say how much money the robber stole.

The robbery occurred at a service entrance near J.C. Penney. It was the fourth shooting at the mall in less than three years.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent fired back in November 2008 during a shootout in the J.C. Penney parking lot that left 27-year-old Begondae Moore dead.

In September 2007, a Charleston police officer shot and killed a man during an afternoon drug bust in the J.C. Penney parking lot. Jeroid Ferguson, 26, of North Charleston, died after being shot while trying to flee in a car and striking an officer with the car.

Christmas shoppers scattered during gunfire near the food court in December 2006. The shooting began about 7 p.m. in the men's bathroom, where a man was shot in the foot.

Shopping center parking lots, where criminals can blend in, have

come a favored spot for drug deals in recent years.

Angie Watts and Cherie Bergeron sat in the mall parking lot near the shooting scene Saturday afternoon, sharing photographs with each other before going inside to take advantage of Memorial Day weekend sales.

"I grew up in Charleston, and I always thought Citadel Mall was one of the safer areas," Watts said.

Bergeron said she might start parking on the other side of the mall.

"It's scary," she said of the shootings. "We might as well go to Northwoods (Mall)."

Brink's offices were closed Saturday, and Citadel Mall officials did not respond to a request for comment.