An Asian American business owner who was assaulted and robbed earlier this week outside a Cheltenham bank was likely the victim of a targeted attack, police said Wednesday.

Surveillance video from the Woori America Bank showed three men sitting in an idling Volvo for more than an hour Tuesday before they ambushed 55-year-old Peter Ly on his way to make a deposit, Cheltenham Police Lt. John Frye said.

The men tried to force Ly into their car, shot him when he resisted, and made off with a satchel filled with thousands of dollars in cash from the deli Ly runs in West Philadelphia.

Although investigators were more certain Wednesday the attack was not random, they were no closer to identifying the robbers or determining how they came to target Ly.

"His family can't think of anyone who would want to rob him," Frye said. "We don't even have any good pictures from surveillance."

Ly remained hospitalized Wednesday at Albert Einstein Medical Center. He was expected to recover from his wounds.

Relatives declined to discuss the investigation. Ly's business - the Rainbow Deli, under the El tracks along the 5200 block of Market Street - remained shuttered throughout the day. He's owned the shop since 2008.

Police said Wednesday they were unsure whether Ly's race had anything to do with the attack. But for some, the crime was unnervingly similar to a rash of robberies targeting Asian American business owners last year.

In a three-month span beginning in June 2010, burglars broke into more than a dozen Asian-owned homes in Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester and Montgomery Counties, stealing thousands of dollars in cash.

The attackers later told prosecutors they specifically targeted their victims because they believed Asians mistrusted banks, kept large sums of cash in their homes, and were unlikely to call 911.

The FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department formed a task force in response to the home invasions to reach out to the Asian American community.

But unlike many of the victims in that spree, Ly was a regular bank customer, Frye said. He was on his way to make his weekly business deposit at Woori America - which markets to Korean American emigrés - when he was attacked.

Investigators described the robbers as three black men last seen driving toward Philadelphia in a black Volvo S20.

They urged anyone with information to contact Cheltenham police at 215-885-1600.

Contact staff writer Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @inqmontco on Twitter. Read his blog, "MontCo Memo," at www.philly.com/montcomemo