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Columbia man arrested in pharmacy robbery that involved bloody syringe

A man who allegedly robbed a pharmacy using a syringe and tried to rob a woman at an ATM has been arrested, according to the Howard County Police Department.

Benjamin Frederick Blessing, 52, of the 5200 block of Golden Sky Court in Columbia, is facing two counts of armed robbery, two counts of first degree-assault, and one count each of robbery, second-degree assault, theft and reckless endangerment, according to online court records.

He is being held without bond at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup.

Police say Blessing walked into a CVS pharmacy in the 3300 block of Centennial Lane at about 4:20 a.m. on April 18 and approached the pharmacy counter. He pulled out a syringe that he said contained AIDS-tainted blood, put the syringe up near a pharmacist's chest and made her open a safe with prescription medicine inside, said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn .

"Some of the blood was dispensed from the syringe but missed the pharmacist," Llewellyn said. "Police confirmed that the substance in the syringe during the robbery was blood and are testing to determine if the blood contained the AIDS virus."

The man got away with more than $27,000 in prescription drugs, police said.

Police said surveillance footage helped them identify Blessing, and a search warrant of his home turned up medicine that had been taken from the CVS.

Surveillance footage also helped police identify Blessing as the man who allegedly tried to rob a woman at a Bank of America ATM last year, Llewellyn said.

That robbery occurred at about 1 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the bank branch in the 9200 block of Old Annapolis Road. A woman said she and her 4-year-old were approached by a man who demanded money and had what appeared to be a stun gun.

But when the woman saw a taxi drive up to the bank, she pointed to it and shouted that the police were there. The man left the bank, and the woman and her child ran away, Llewellyn said. No money was taken.

Blessing has court hearings scheduled for May 23 and May 30 in these two cases. He also has court dates scheduled in Howard County in June for two other criminal cases on charges including obtaining prescription drugs fraudulently, theft, possessing a dangerous weapon with intent to injure, and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, according to online court records.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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