Redwood Pharmacies in Eureka was reportedly robbed at gunpoint Wednesday afternoon for its stock of the narcotic OxyContin.
The Eureka Police Department responded to the Henderson Center pharmacy on F Street at about 3 p.m. for reports of an armed robbery. After pointing a handgun at the clerk, the suspect ran out of the store, in back of the building and down the alley behind it, according to the EPD. Police are investigating whether this latest OxyContin robbery is related to others committed in the Eureka area.
The suspect was described as a white male adult in baggy blue pants and a gray shirt, about 5 feet 8 inches tall. According to police at the scene, he “went straight for the Oxys” before running off.
EPD officers temporarily shut down the store while they investigated the scene and collected evidence.
Pharmacy over-the-counter manager Peggy Whitney said a co-worker alerted her when the robber entered the store with a black cloth covering most of his face. Whitney has worked at the Eureka pharmacy for eight years.
”That was the scariest thing I've ever been through,” she said.
Whitney said she ran in back to tell the pharmacist they were being robbed, and when she turned around, the man was behind her.
”He said, 'I just want the OxyContin and I'll be out of here quick,'” Whitney said.
All the employees, stunned and scared, did not respond, so he repeated himself. One employee pointed out the cupboard the drugs were in, and when he turned around, Whitney ran past him into the office to call 911.
”He was so friendly about it -- it was so weird,” Whitney said. “He looked as if he was probably just as scared as we were.”
Whitney said he took the 40 mg and 80 mg doses of OxyContin from their stock and promptly left the pharmacy. Whitney said she and others think it may be the same man who committed other armed OxyContin robberies, She said that she talked with employees from Lima's Professional Pharmacy, which was robbed last week, and the description of the suspect seemed similar, especially his blue eyes.
Although the store was closed during the police investigation, Redwood Pharmacies continued business as usual afterwards. Employees were given the option of going home after the incident, but everyone continued their shift.
”It's best to just get back on the horse,” Whitney said.
This latest robbery marks the fourth in the Eureka area targeting pharmacies carrying OxyContin. Lima's Professional Pharmacy was robbed last week of about $2,000 worth of the narcotic, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. Cloney's Prescription Pharmacy was robbed twice in the same week at gunpoint in late April.
Cloney's reportedly stopped carrying OxyContin to help ensure the safety of its employees.
Whitney said she is unsure if they will continue to carry the medication, but said that “our customers have a need for it.” The narcotic helps those with chronic pain function and enjoy life, she said.
Allison White/The Times-Standard
OxyContin stolen at gunpoint from Henderson Center pharmacy in Eureka