When a Hunter Valley pharmacy was robbed with a hand-made replica pistol this week, pharmacist in charge Gemma Skelton almost found the situation hard to take seriously.
Police were called to the Morisset Main Street Pharmacy at about 9.20am after the alleged robber entered the pharmacy and demanded drugs and cash.
“It was all a bit strange,” an unfazed Skelton told the AJP. “This man came in through the door and then into the raised level of the dispensary, with a hand-made gun with a laser on top.
“It was pretty obvious that it wasn’t a real gun. It was just a handle with a gun-shaped bit of metal on top, and then a strong blue laser light attached to the top of that.
“It took me a while to realise what was happening. We’ve had builders in the pharmacy, including up in the dispensary area, he looked like a builder, and what he was holding looked a bit like a building tool.
“So I wasn’t really concerned.”
She said the man demanded “DDs” (dangerous drugs) and cash.
“I thought he was joking, but then he shone the laser in my eyes, and I said, ‘Are you serious? Are you robbing us?’
“So we went straight to the safe and I said, ‘What do you want?’ I filled up his backpack and by the time I’d finished, I was walking back to the dispensary and the store manager looked at me and mouthed, ‘They’re here’. I took that to mean the police, so I ran out of the way.”
Skelton says that at no time did she feel as though she was in any danger; however when the police arrived, the alleged robber turned the home-made weapon on them.
“He pointed the ‘gun’ straight at the cops and all they would have seen from where they were was the blue light on their chest,” she says. “So they Tasered him. It really happened so quickly.”
The excitement didn’t end there, however. Police soon found an unknown object inside the pharmacy, and the entire street was closed to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic, with nearby businesses evacuated, until the bomb squad were able to ascertain that the object was not a threat.
The 49-year-old man was taken to hospital for assessment before being taken to Belmont Police Station to assist police with their enquiries.
The pharmacy re-opened this morning, and Skelton says customers have been expressing concern for the wellbeing of the staff.
“Everyone’s been really kind,” she says.