The Carbonear man accused of committing an armed robbery at a pharmacy in South River on Aug. 20 has been remanded into custody on what police are describing as six "extremely serious charges."
Michael Brian Bowman, 25, appeared in provincial court in Placentia on Aug. 21, where he waived his right to a bail hearing. He is scheduled to enter a plea on the charges during a Sept. 5 court appearance in Harbour Grace.
Police allege Bowman was responsible for an alarming and violent armed robbery at Baccalieu Trail Pharmacy at mid-morning on Aug. 20.
A masked man carrying a rifle entered the business, marched to the rear of the building, pointed a rifle at the pharmacist and demanded a specific prescription drug, police say.
According to owner Linda Sesk, the pharmacist complied and threw the drugs on the floor near the suspect.
"He pointed the gun directly at the pharmacist," she later told The Compass. "It was all over very quickly."
There were five employees in the store at the time, though it's not believed any customers witnessed the incident.
Seth described it as a terrifying incident that left her employees feeling distressed and uneasy.
The accused fled the scene in a car — a white Mitsubishi Lancer — and was later observed travelling towards Bay Roberts on Veterans Memorial Highway.
Officers with the Trinity Conception District RCMP later stopped the car at the access road to Harbour Grace, where an arrest was made without incident.
A police spokesman, who asked not to be identified, explained what happened:
"Our risk assessment led us to believe he was armed and dangerous. Based on this we were concerned for our safety and the safety of the public. Upon locating the suspect vehicle, we stopped it in as safe a location as possible and ordered him out of the vehicle at gunpoint.
“He complied. We took him out and brought him to the ground. He was co-operative,” said the officer.
A loaded .22 calibre rifle was found in the vehicle.
"It helps that they have him, but it's very disappointing," Sesk added. "I believe this was a very desperate young person who couldn't get a prescription filled, and needed it right away."
The pharmacy is located at the intersection of Route 70 (Roaches Line) and Route 60 (Conception Bay Highway), and has been in operation since the early 1970s.
Sesk said there have been several incidents —mostly break-ins — at the business over the years, but never to this extreme.
"The girls are very upset, and as you can imagine, the pharmacist is very upset," she said.
The officer said robberies do occur in the region, but described the South River incident as an escalation.
“You don't go into a pharmacy with a loaded rifle, allegedly threaten employees for prescription narcotics unless it's for financial gain or an addiction issue. At this point, we believe it's an addiction issue,” the officer stated.
"It was a desperate, dangerous and violent act."
The accused does not have a criminal record, and did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of his arrest.
Authorities expressed relief there were no injuries, but said the "emotional and psychological concern" for those involved cannot be overlooked.
The accused, meanwhile, faces six charges. They include the following: robbery with a firearm, pointing a firearm, using a mask in the commission of an indictable offence, possession of a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, using a firearm while committing an indictable offence, and careless use of a firearm.