Knife-wielding robber strikes Talent pharmacy

TALENT — A knife-wielding Ashland man threatened employees at a Talent pharmacy Saturday afternoon before fleeing with prescription drugs, police said.

The suspect, later identified as Galen Patrick O'Neill, 24, reportedly entered the Medicap pharmacy at 205 N. Pacific Highway at 12:30 p.m. When employees saw he was wearing what appeared to be a scarf over his face, they asked him to remove it, which is a standard rule at pharmacies and banks, said Talent police Chief Mike Moran.

O'Neill responded by brandishing a butterfly knife and jumping over the counter to threaten the clerks.

"At one point, an employee briefly grappled with (O'Neill)," Moran said.

O'Neill allegedly forced the employees into a back room. He then grabbed an unspecified amount of narcotics and fled the pharmacy.

O'Neill headed to his car parked near Talent Avenue, but did not realize a quick-witted employee had discreetly left the store to observe his vehicle and the direction he traveled, Moran said.

"The employee also gave us his license plate number, which helped a lot," Moran said. "These employees did a good job assisting us in this case."

The robbery sparked a multi-agency search, which included officials from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and the Ashland Police Department.

Officers were able to name O'Neill as the primary suspect at around 1:10 p.m. They drove to his home in the 2700 block of Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland and made the arrest, Moran said.

O'Neill was later charged with first-degree robbery, three counts of second-degree robbery, three counts of menacing and one count of first-degree theft.

First-degree robbery is a Measure 11 crime that carries a mandatory sentence of seven years, six months in prison upon conviction.

Moran said O'Neill could face additional charges when the case is presented before a grand jury next week.

Pharmaceuticals have become a popular commodity among criminals in recent years, Moran said. "Instead of stealing cash, we sometimes see them go after narcotics," he said. "The suspects can be hooked on the medications, or they could sell them."

In February 2008, a man on crutches and brandishing a handgun robbed the Pharmacy Express in Central Point. He fled the store with $8,000 in painkillers and was later arrested in Portland.

In January, a man armed with a knife robbed the West Main Pharmacy in Medford. Earlier that night police believe the same suspect attempted to rob the Walgreens of drugs before fleeing the store empty-handed.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail

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