Suspect in pharmacy robbery quickly taken into custody
by James Phillips
Feb 27, 2013 | 6139 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jasper Police Detective Leonard Harvill and Walker County Sheriff's Office Investigator Ralph Williams sort through a bag of prescription medication that was reportedly stolen from a Jasper pharmacy Tuesday night. Daily Mountain Eagle - James Phillips
Jasper Police Detective Leonard Harvill and Walker County Sheriff's Office Investigator Ralph Williams sort through a bag of prescription medication that was reportedly stolen from a Jasper pharmacy Tuesday night. Daily Mountain Eagle - James Phillips
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A local man is in police custody after allegedly robbing a downtown Jasper pharmacy Tuesday night.

Richard Thompson, 51, of Jasper, is being held in the city jail after reportedly robbing Hospital Discount Pharmacy in downtown Jasper.

Formal charges have not been filed, but Jasper Police Detective Leonard Harvill said Thompson will face several charges, including robbery and trafficking.

Dispatchers at the Jasper Police Department received multiple calls around 6 p.m. Tuesday from employees at the pharmacy, concerning the robbery. Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe said several members of law enforcement were nearby, because they had been providing security for the trial of Carl David Plylar at the Walker County Courthouse.

“We were on the scene almost immediately,” she said.

Rowe said Ray Capps, a deputy with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, was the first person on the scene and stopped the Ford Mustang Thompson was driving. Several members of the Jasper Police Department arrived only moments later. Jasper Officer Richard Hobbs took Thompson into custody, Rowe said.

Shannon Beaty, owner of Hospital Discount Pharmacy, said Thompson approached her just before the store closed.

“He came in the side door and was wearing a hoodie with a scarf over his face,” Beaty said. “I asked if I could help him and he handed me a folded up note.”

Beaty said the suspect, via the note, explained he had a handgun and a pipe bomb.

“It said I had 10 minutes to get what he needed — OxyContin and Xanax,” she said. “I told him I didn’t fill prescriptions and that would let everyone know something was wrong.

“He didn’t care,” Beaty continued. “He showed me what appeared to be a gun and said if I didn’t get it for him that he would start shooting and would detonate the bombs.”

Beaty said she immediately thought about a little girl that was in the store as well as all her employees, so she did what the suspect asked. “I filled up a bag with the narcotics he asked for,” she said.

Jessie Nichols, an employee at the pharmacy, realized something was wrong, Beaty said. “She walked right by him and called 911,” she said.

Beaty said she is thankful no one was hurt in the incident and thankful for the quick response of the police.

“I saw blue lights just after he walked out the door,” she said. “The police department was here so quickly, and I appreciate the work that they do.”

No gun or bomb was found, investigators said.

Harvill and Ralph Williams, an investigator with the sheriff’s office, spent several hours processing the crime scene Tuesday night.

“From the start of this incident, members of the sheriff’s office were here,” Rowe said. “We appreciate their help.”

Less than two months ago, Thompson had another encounter with Jasper police. Thompson was involved in an automobile accident on Dec. 28.

His vehicle had overturned and was partially submerged in water with Thompson incoherent and trapped by his seatbelt, hanging in an inverted position.

The water level was rising and Laverne Hill, a Jasper police officer responding to the accident, pryed the car door open and saved Thompson’s life.

“Police officers deal with victims and also offenders,” Rowe said. “Some times on one day a person is a victim and another day that same person might be an offender. Our intentions as a department is to always do the right thing at the right time.”