Police: Suspect Charged in Robbery at Syringe-Point
Police say suspect claimed the syringe, filled with blood, was tainted with AIDS.
A man whom police say held up a pharmacist with a syringe that he claimed contained AIDS-tainted blood is facing robbery and assault charges.
Howard County Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said Benjamin Frederick Blessing, 52, of Golden Sky Court in Columbia also faces charges in an October robbery, in which a woman, with her daughter, was robbed at an ATM in Columbia.
On April 18, police responded to a CVS Pharmacy on Centennial Lane at about 4:20 a.m. Employees said a man walked into the store, headed to the pharmacy counter and showed a syringe.
Employees told police that the suspect held the syringe near the pharmacist’s chest and said it contained AIDS-tainted blood. Red liquid came out of the syringe, but police said it did not touch the pharmacist.
The suspect told the pharmacist to open a safe containing prescription drugs, the pharmacist complied and the suspect left with more than $27,000 worth of prescriptions, police said.
Police identified Blessing after watching surveillance video footage. When they searched his home, police said they found medication that was stolen from CVS on April 18. Police also recovered the syringe and are testing the blood to determine whether it is tainted with AIDS.
Blessing was also identified by police in another surveillance video, this one of an October robbery at an ATM machine on the 9200 block of Old Annapolis Road in Columbia.
In that incident, a victim told police that she was with her 4-year-old child in the ATM vestibule at about 1 p.m. on Oct. 10 when a man approached her with what looked like a TASAR device and demanded money.
The woman said she saw a cab pull up, and she pointed to it, shouting that the police had showed up. She said the suspect then walked out of the bank and she ran out with her child.
Police say no one was injured in either case.
Blessing is being held at the Howard County Detention Center on $170,000 bond. He faces armed robbery, first- and second-degree assault, theft and reckless endangerment for the CVS robbery. He faces armed robbery and first-degree charges for the Oct. 10 ATM robbery.