Jerome Ersland was back at work Thursday filling prescriptions and hoping that by taking the life of a 16-year-old boy two days earlier, he had saved others.
Rubbing an oversized bandage on his left forearm, where he said he was grazed by a robber’s bullet, Ersland related details of what he said was a highly organized hit on the Reliable Discount Pharmacy.
"I just regret anybody would get killed,” Ersland said. "But if I wouldn’t have been here, there would have been three people killed — the other pharmacist and the two techs.”
He also recalls the angry voices of people who gathered outside the pharmacy Tuesday night, shouting that he was a racist who unnecessarily took a life of the Seeworth Academy charter school student, Antwun Parker.
"There were a lot of black people gathered out there yelling and everything at my boss,” Ersland said.
An organized hit
After the pharmacy near SW 59 and Pennsylvania was robbed two years ago, the owner installed new security measures to try to make sure his employees would never again be forced to a back room and pistol-whipped.
"We have a very good security system,” Ersland said, motioning to the magnetic door locks that won’t let anyone in or out of the store without permission. "The door locks, and they (robbers) knew that. They had cased it because they knew exactly what time to hit us when we’d have all of our narcotics out and our money out.”
About 10 minutes before 6 p.m., Ersland said, two robbers wearing ski masks waited for someone to leave the pharmacy and then grabbed the open door and threw down a board to stop the door from closing.
The robbers went in cursing and yelling, ordering employees to give them money and drugs, Ersland said.
Two women who were working behind the counter ran for a back room where they would be safe, but Ersland said he couldn’t run. Ersland said he’s a veteran with disabilities from wounds he received in Operation Desert Storm, wears a cumbersome back brace and just had his latest back surgery six weeks ago.
"All of a sudden, they started shooting,” he said. "They were attempting to kill me, but they didn’t know I had a gun. They said, ‘You’re gonna die.’ That’s when one of them shot at me, and that’s when he got my hand.”
Ersland said he was thrown against a wall, but managed to go for the semiautomatic in his pocket.