The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 14, 2013

Pistol gripped: Armed pharmacist foils would-be heist

By Jean Cole and Adam Smith
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— The pharmacist who thwarted a robbery at an Athens pharmacy Monday said the suspect could be called the “butt-crack bandit” since he nearly lost his pants when the pharmacist drew a gun on him, sending him running empty-handed from the store.

Pharmacist Terrell Milby of Westside Jiffy Pharmacy at 1204 W. Market St. is not the Rambo type. One would expect the graying, bespectacled man to carry pictures of his kids, not a concealed handgun. However, his foresight paid off Monday morning after a man entered the store about 8 a.m.

“He came in when we opened and asked to speak to the pharmacist,” Milby said. “He said he had a list of medications he wanted to speak to me about.”

Because there were two other customers in the store at the time, the man decided his list was too long and said he would return later, the pharmacist said 

“He came back 20 or 30 minutes later and asked for me again,” Milby said. “He stood at the consultation window and handed me the napkin and stood there with his hands is the pockets of his hoodie (hooded sweatshirt).”

The note

On the napkin was a handwritten note requesting an unspecified number of 30-milligram tablets of the painkiller oxycontin and the psychostimulant Adderall and 100 syringes, the pharmacist said. The wish list included the warning: “I have a gun,” Milby said. “I didn’t believe he had a gun, so I showed him my own and told him to get on the floor.”

The man acted as thought he was going to get down but suddenly straightened up and ran, the pharmacist said.

“He ran out the front door and his pants came about off on the way out, so I guess you could call him the “butt-crack bandit.” He ran around to the back of the store. I could see him out the window. Then I called the police.”

After interviewing Milby and other employees, police left and returned an hour later with a six-man photo lineup, and Milby identified the man who allegedly tried to rob the store. Limestone County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim McNeal had told police investigators he had contact earlier with Davis and he fit the description of the robber. Police swiftly apprehended the suspect, Noah Jay Davis, 22, of 21760 Bean Road, who was home sleeping, Police Chief Floyd Johnson said. He is charged with first-degree robbery.

Waiting to rob

Surveillance video showed the suspect was standing outside the pharmacy even before it opened Monday morning. The tape showed the man had repeatedly checked the door to see if the business had opened.

When asked if gun-toting pharmacists was the norm in Athens, Johnson said he could not speculate.

“You can never be too careful,” he said. “You never know who’s going to walk in.”

Milby has been carrying a concealed weapon for several years now, mainly to put the employees at ease, he said. He has handled guns since he was a boy and practices firing his pistol at the shooting range.

“It gives me comfort and, although I’ve never asked them, I think it gives the employees comfort,” he said.

A quiet pharmacy

Milby has seen only one other robbery attempt in his 20 years as a pharmacist. The last attempt occurred about eight months ago when a man walked into the pharmacy, handed a note requesting all of the oxycontin to a clerk, who handed it to another clerk, who handed it to Milby. Because the would-be robber did not have a gun and was not near the counter, Milby picked up the telephone as if to call police and the man ran out.

“You think about it when you come to work when you put a gun on but you don’t think you will have to use it,” he said, noting that he was still a little scared after the morning incident.