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Pharmacists Tell Horror Stories At Suffolk County Specialized Security Training Seminar

Lessons Learned, Shoulders To Lean On Offered By Those Touched By Tragedy
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David Laffer and wife Melinda Brady (credit: Suffolk County Police Department)

David Laffer and wife Melinda Brady (credit: Suffolk County Police Department)

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NESCONSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In the wake of skyrocketing and violent drug store robberies on Long Island, pharmacists gathered in Suffolk County on Tuesday for specialized security training.

Pharmacists shared chilling and harrowing experiences.

“The gun was in my face and he asked me for all the narcotics. I stayed as calm as I could be,” Nesconset pharmacist Carol Chilingirian told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Inside Suffolk Community College a symposium sponsored by the maker of OxyContin was held, bringing together dozens of local pharmacists to learn from law enforcement and drug experts of emerging trends and dangerous patterns.

For instance, it was learned that most pharmacy robberies take place on Mondays in the afternoon in drug stores with no surveillance cameras, no alarms and no drug safe.

When asked if he feared for his life when he was held up, Shirley pharmacist Greg Bellias said, “It was the moment that was just so very real, and I said this could be it.”

Mark Geraci of Purdue Pharma Corporate Security said the idea of better training is “how do you make yourself a harder target? How do you reduce the likelihood of you being subjected as a pharmacist to pharmacy crime?”

Pharmacists were told that short of an armed security guard, alarms, cameras and bulletproof glass have been working since David Laffer’s crime spree to thwart the desperate and violent, who are: white males, acting alone, between 20 and 30 years of age, wearing a baseball cap and or a and armed with a gun.

For these pharmacists there was an emotional moment when the daughter of victim Bryan Sheffield — one of the four murdered in the Medford pharmacy massacre — offered her support.

“I look forward to working with all of you as a resource, a mentor, and a victim, to affect that positive change,” Laura Sheffield-Bustamente said.

One Nesconset pharmacy is making that change. Patrons wearing hoodies are not buzzed in, and the local pharmacist is now behind protective glass.

Pharmacists are being trained to remain calm, activate alarms, call police, make mental notes of suspects’ description and protect the crime scene.

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