Gun-Wielding Walmart Pharmacy Robber Stopped by Rookie Cop

A rookie state police trooper recently testified against a gun-wielding man he prevented from robbing a Walmart pharmacy of fentanyl.

A rookie state police trooper recently testified against a gun-wielding man he prevented from robbing a Walmart pharmacy of fentanyl.

On the night of April 7, 2016, Darrio Parham, who at the time had been a state police trooper for only 5 months, was sitting in his cruiser at the Shrewsbury Walmart parking lot when he responded to a call reporting a knife-wielding, disorderly customer at the store’s pharmacy. When he arrived at the scene, the suspect, who police allege is Thomas Markowski, had just stolen 4 boxes of fentanyl patches from the pharmacy and was brandishing a shotgun while making his getaway, the York Dispatch reported.

“He was coming at me. He told me I needed to move out of his way [several times],” Parham testified at Markowski’s preliminary hearing on August 24, 2016. “I told him to put down the weapon.”

Markowski allegedly refused to comply with the officer’s demands and instead took a gun out of the black plastic bag he was holding and pointed it at Parham.

“I remember putting my hand on the gun and pushing it away,” Parham testified. “Mr. Markowski, he fired one shot. And that’s when I returned fire.”

Once Parham shot Markowski in the chest, the suspect fell to the ground. Stuart Weiner, a Walmart pharmacy cashier who was working on the night of the robbery, was standing behind Markowski when the gunshots were exchanged.

“It happened so fast,” Weiner said, testifying that Markowski told Parham to shoot him again.

Walmart pharmacy technician Terry White also testified that Markowski insisted he needed the drugs because he was dying, although it has not been confirmed whether Markowski has a terminal illness.

Parham’s testimony provided enough evidence for Markowski to stand trial. He is expected to face charges that include attempted homicide, assault on law-enforcement officer with a firearm, aggravated assault, and robbery.

This incident is just one of many pharmacy robberies that have been increasingly occurring over the past few years. In the same week as Markowski’s hearing, a male suspect robbed a Walgreens pharmacy in Hamilton, Ohio, though he was shot and killed by police after holding the pharmacist hostage at knifepoint.

According to a 2016 study on pharmacy crime by Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company, about 42% of pharmacy robbers targeted a locally owned pharmacy, and 72% had visited the pharmacy before they committed the crime to fill a prescription. In this case, Weiner confirmed that he recognized the suspect as a previous pharmacy customer that he assisted before, according to the York Dispatch. Therefore, keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior may help prevent pharmacy robberies.