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Stolen van recovered; two wanted in attempted Trinity pharmacy robbery at large

TRINITY — Deputies have found the van used by two people who tried to rob a pharmacy at gunpoint Tuesday afternoon, but they are still searching for the assailants.

The two left the van at the shopping center at Duck Slough Boulevard and State Road 54, the location of the Medicine Shoppe where they had demanded money and drugs shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday, Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll said.

An employee hit the panic button and another darted out the back door to get help, witnesses said. One of the assailants pointed a gun at pharmacist Ben Benoit, who managed to wrestle the gun away.

The would-be robbers fled, with the pharmacist's wife chasing them out the door with her own gun — attempting to break their van's window and firing a round into the vehicle as it sped off, Doll said.

At this time, it doesn't appear that the bullet hit either of the two fleeing, Doll said.

A business' security video showed the robbers ditching the van and getting into what appears to be a silver sedan.

Authorities think one of the robbers is the same man who pistol-whipped a 71-year-old woman about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in a botched carjacking outside the Ross Dress for Less at Little Road and State Road 54.

The man tried to force the woman into her car, the Sheriff's Office said. When she said no, he hit her in the head with his gun, drenching her in blood, witnesses said.

A couple from Ohio tried to help, but the man pointed his gun at them, took their car keys and fled in their Dodge van — the van that was later recovered near the Medicine Shoppe.

The gunman is described as being between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall, with a medium build and brown hair. There is no description of the accomplice.

They are described as armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (727) 844-7711. Tips also can be left anonymously by calling 1-800-706-2488 or on the Sheriff's Web site at pascosheriff.com (click on "contacts" at the top of the page, then scroll toward the middle of the next page for directions on how to leave a tip online).

The 71-year-old woman is recovering, though Doll didn't say whether she had been released from the hospital or not.

"She's doing better," he said.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com.

Stolen van recovered; two wanted in attempted Trinity pharmacy robbery at large 04/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 9:17pm]

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