A pharmacy worker “practically carried” a 90-year-old customer out of the store when a customer allegedly threatened staff with a knife
Nick Logan, the proprietor of the Nick Logan Pharmacist Advice in Artarmon on Sydney’s north shore, was making an emergency medicines delivery when his mobile rang.
“Halfway there, [staff member] Bow rang up and said, ‘Nick, we’ve been held up, but it’s okay – we managed to get all the customers out of the shop and lock him in there’,” Mr Logan told the AJP.
He said that a man had gone into the pharmacy and been approached by retail manager Samin. The man then asked for Rikodeine and was told that the pharmacy did not stock the 200mL bottle, but that it could provide it if he came back with a prescription.
“Samin knew he didn’t have a dry cough,” Mr Logan said. “And that’s when he [allegedly] showed him the knife, walked around the till and into the dispensary.
“Samin said to [staff members] Yasmina and Katrina, ‘Get out quickly’.
“There were people in there with kids, and there was a woman who was about 90 years old, who they practically carried out the front door.”
Once the staff and customers were safely outside in the street, Samin locked the door.
The man then allegedly hid his knife under some toilet paper in the bathroom and sat down in the shop.
“He kind of seemed resigned to his fate, like his life was out of control, and he knew he eventually was going to end up in jail,” Mr Logan said.
“I got there quickly because there’s no traffic on the roads [due to COVID-19]. There were four police vehicles, and 10 or 12 cops there, and they arrested him.”
As it turned out, the man had just moved to the area and the pharmacy had been working with other health services to give him his medicines via staged supply.
“It’s sad, actually, because he’s a guy with poor mental health and who has made poor life choices,” Mr Logan said.
“I’ve never seen a group of people feel more pity for a guy who’s threatened them.
“We all hope he gets taken care of.”
Mr Logan said that he will check in with his staff in the short term to ensure that they have support to deal with the incident.
“You can’t be more careful, particularly at this time, when pharmacies are under so much pressure,” he said.
“We’re preparing to do COVID vaccination, deliveries are off the charts, there’s problems contacting people – it’s a really difficult period of time in all community pharmacies, as they’re all slogging their guts out at the moment for the benefit of the community.
“You don’t want anyone feeling anxious coming to work. It’s already a stressful enough time.
“In community pharmacy our staff are going above and beyond the call of duty and they deserve all the respect that the community is showering on them at the moment.”
The pharmacy’s patients have been “absolutely extraordinary” in showing their support in person and online, Mr Logan said, including sending flowers and cards, “and just expressing their thanks that we’re open and serving them at this bizarre time in our history”.
“I’ve never been more proud of my staff,” he said, paying tribute to the efforts of Samin, Bow, Katrina and Yasmina in handling the incident.
“I can’t tell you how proud I was, particularly when Samin indicated they should all get out of the shop ASAP: they didn’t run for it, they collected all the customers. Bow practically carried a 90-year-old out.”
He advised other pharmacies to make use of CCTV to help police identify suspects.
“I used to get held up every two years, so I’ve been held up maybe five times, but not for 10 or 15 years, because in the old days people paid in cash so it was worthwhile holding up a pharmacy,” Mr Logan said.
“It’s not now, unless you’re desperate for drugs.
“Fifteen years ago I would have said get a drop safe to put the cash in; now, my advice is that CCTV is really good quality these days. It really assists the police in making the community a safer place.”