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Suspect in Tarpon Springs pharmacy attack says 'he just went crazy,' police say

TARPON SPRINGS — A 30-year-old man who stabbed a pharmacy clerk in the neck Monday afternoon admitted to the crime and said "he just went crazy" but couldn't explain why, police said.

Roy Robert Blair of 1210 Calvary Lane, No. 26, in Holiday, was being held without bail Tuesday in the Pinellas County Jail.

His victim, 23-year-old Jordan Bennett of Tampa, was treated and released from a local hospital Monday night, authorities said.

Tarpon Springs police said Blair went into Anclote Pharmacy at 1933 N Pinellas Ave. just after 4 p.m.

A surveillance video caught the attack on tape. In the video, which was released Tuesday, Bennett is first seen helping a female customer. As soon as Bennett hands the woman her receipt, a man in a baseball hat, who had been standing nearby, jumps the counter with a knife visible in his left hand.

Investigators say that seconds before he jumped over the counter, Blair demanded prescription pain pills and told Bennett "he had two seconds to get him the drugs," according to arrest reports.

The struggle moves out of the camera's view for several seconds. Police say it was during this time that Blair stabbed Bennett in the side of the neck.

Back in the camera's view, Bennett is seen holding Blair down on the counter as an unidentified male customer in a white tank top and jeans tries to help by grabbing Blair and holding onto his belt.

Store owner Chetan Shah, 33, is seen hitting Blair several times with a baseball bat as Bennett holds onto Blair.

Blair is then seen gouging Bennett's eyes with his fingers.

He ultimately broke free and ran away, setting off a search that included police dogs and a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office helicopter.

Throughout the encounter, Bennett appears calm, holding his attacker down after he been stabbed. Neither Bennett nor the store owner could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Blair was found about six hours after the attack in a ditch in Holiday Lakes Estates after Pasco County deputies received calls about a man in his underwear. A Pasco deputy and his canine partner tracked Blair to the ditch, where he was taken into custody.

Like many law enforcement agencies, the Tarpon Springs Police Department doesn't keep specific statistics on pharmacy robberies, but a police official said that anecdotally it appears there have been more in recent years.

"The bigger problem with pharmacies is prescription fraud," said Tarpon Springs police Capt. Jeff Young. "When that does not work, individuals get desperate and resort to this type of action to get the pills they are seeking."

Young said his agency does not suggest unarmed civilians trying to stop an armed suspect, but people also need to protect themselves.

Blair was charged with attempted murder and attempted robbery. Tuesday morning, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office tacked on four additional charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. A sheriff's spokeswoman said deputies already had probable cause to arrest Blair from a previous investigation. According to arrest reports, Blair passed fraudulent prescriptions at a drugstore in St. Petersburg at least four times last year.

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show Blair spent 10 months in jail in 2008 after he was convicted in Pasco County of uttering forged bills.

Blair also has a criminal record in Michigan, according to records from the Michigan Department of Corrections. He was convicted of breaking and entering in 1999, and in 2004 was convicted of auto theft and two counts of receiving and concealing stolen property, records show.

Suspect in Tarpon Springs pharmacy attack says 'he just went crazy,' police say 05/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:42am]
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