A witness who was in the store next to the CVS Pharmacy thought the guy must have been running away from something.
That something was the scene of a crime – perhaps the first of two on the evening.
A man fled from the CVS store on Broadway in Whitehall at about 6:35 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 5, crossing in front of the Dollar General store before disappearing from the view of those at the shopping center.
The suspect, described as a white male in his late teens to early twenties, between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet 3 inches and wearing a brown jacket with hood, baseball cap, blue jeans and sneakers, entered the CVS store and proceeded to the pharmacy counter, where he appeared to show a gun to the employee at the pharmacy counter and gave a note demanding OxyContin and Oxycodone.
“He was displaying what appeared to be a handgun to the store employee in his waistband,” said Whitehall Village Police Chief Matthew Dickinson. “The pharmacy employee complied with the demand and the suspect fled on foot in a southerly direction without any further incident.”
As he ran away from the pharmacy, people in the Dollar General store located next to CVS saw the suspect.
“He was running away and he had both of his hands in his pockets,” said a witness who was in the store. “I thought he was running away from something.”
Meanwhile, Dickinson and Sergeant Richard LaChapelle were both at the Whitehall village board meeting when the call came in concerning the heist. Both rushed from the meeting and responded to the call.
Dickinson said that the most likely answer to why someone would be looking to steal OxyContin and Oxycodone would be to either support their own habit or the habit of someone else.
“Either he’s an addict or he is selling it would be the two obvious answers,” said Dickinson.
OxyContin is an opioid agonist and is a powerful pain killer widely used in clinical medicine. Over the past decade, however, it has become a popular drug due to its mood-altering tendencies, which has led to a significant increase in illicit usage. The drug is abused by crushing the tablets and either ingesting, injecting, inhaling or placing rectally.
Methods of obtaining the drug illegally include the use of fake and stolen prescriptions, internet purchasing, improper prescribing practices and, in the case of CVS and Rite Aid, robbery.
While members of the Whitehall Police Department, Washington County Sheriffs Department and New York State Police continued to search the area for a suspect and interview witnesses and search for clues on-scene, a West Rutland Rite Aid Pharmacy was robbed by a similar-looking suspect
The Rite Aid in West Rutland was held up at approximately 7:21 p.m. by a man who had a similar description and also showed what appeared to be a handgun and gave an employee a note demanding OxyContin and Oxycodone.
The suspect in the West Rutland robbery was described with the same height and age with a thin build and short, dirty blond to brown hair. He was wearing a Carhartt jacket with a hood, blue jeans and sneakers.
Dickinson said that the village department was contacted by the Vermont State Police and both parties are working together to formulate any possible leads.
“We are still working with the Vermont State Police in developing leads and working on them as we speak,” said Dickinson.
Anyone with information in the cases, including those who were in the general area of the CVS Pharmacy shortly before or after the incident are asked to call Whitehall Police at 499-1316 or Vermont State Police at 802-773-9101.