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Pharmacy robberies are common

BY JULIE BISBEE Published: May 30, 2009
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Working at a pharmacy can be dangerous work, sometimes more dangerous than working at a bank, where it’s not uncommon for assailants to brandish a gun and demand money.

When assailants enter a pharmacy intending to rob it, they are not only looking for money but also for powerful pain killers that can fetch hundreds of dollars when sold on the street.

Pharmacists say at times they feel like they are the front lines standing between powerful pain drugs and sometimes desperate people searching for narcotics.

"They’re on the firing line everyday,” said Phil Woodward, executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association. "They have to worry about getting the prescriptions filled right, and they’re filling more and more prescriptions each day. Then they have to worry about someone coming in the door with a gun.”

Oklahoma City pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland, 57, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Antwun Parker, 16. Parker and 14-year-old Jevontia Ingram are suspected of trying to rob the Reliable Discount Pharmacy, 5900 S Pennsylvania Ave. Ingram has been charged with murder in Parker’s death. Emanuel Dewayne Mitchell, 31, and Anthony Devale Morrison, 43, also have been charged in the teen’s death.

Ersland, of Chickasha, has been a registered pharmacist in Oklahoma since 1977, according to records from the state Board of Pharmacy. Ersland’s license expires in October. Under board rules, he can continue to practice, despite the charges he faces.

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