Pharmacist rebounds after armed robbery

cmuccigrosso@lakewyliepilot.comMay 19, 2014 

— Local pharmacist Larry Meek said with community support, he and his staff have been able to get back to business following the May 12 armed robbery at the store.

“Mayberry is not Mayberry anymore,” the Lake Wylie Pharmacy owner said Friday. “But the last few days, this community has been absolutely outstanding. As scary as that moment was, the community has just poured in here.”

Meek said he and a technician had just opened the store at 9 a.m. May 12 when he heard a knock on the back door.

“We received orders through the back door,” Meek said.

When he opened the door, he saw a man with a gun.

“He put the gun to my chest, and said ‘I want pills and I want money,’” Meek said.

The technician, Chelsea Renee Taylor, crawled on the floor to get out the front door, the report states. She ran to a nearby business to call the police.

Meek said the encounter was about six minutes.

“And the front door was unlocked, but thank God no one else came in,” he said.

While the man demanded specific pharmaceuticals, he also wanted money.

“Other businesses need to realize, money is just as important,” Meek said.

He advises fellow business owners to be aware.

“Don’t just open your back door,” he said, adding he’s upped security measures. “We get so comfortable, but now we’re more aware of our surroundings. We didn’t have a plan before, now we do.”

The York County Sheriff’s Office reports describe the suspect as a white man, about 5’10” with a slim build.

He was wearing all black and a mask covered his face.

He was armed with a chrome colored, semi-automatic pistol, the report states.

A K-9 unit was brought out to help with the investigation, but lost the scent. Part of the evidence includes surveillance video, according to the report.

Witness Patricia McCall was pulling into the parking lot when she noticed an odd person walking quickly across the field coming from the direction of the Lake Wylie Business Park and heading in the direction of the pharmacy, with his head down, the report states.

“They responded so fast and were first class,” Meek said of the police.

No one was injured, and the pharmacy reopened at about 11:30 a.m. Meek said since then, he’s seen a steady stream of customers checking in and the phone is ringing off the hook.

Community support

People are sending cards and neighboring businesses, like Azteca Grill and Salon 108, have sent them lunch.

“It’s humbling and makes it better,” Meek said. “I’ve worked here my whole life, went to school here, I love my community and my job. I’m 100 percent sure now we are where we’re supposed to be.

“People say they’re praying for us,” Meek said. “We can feel it.”

Meek and wife Michelle opened Lake Wylie Pharmacy in January 2012 at 221 Latitude Lane, suite 109, in Shoppes at the Landing.

The 1,500-square-foot space includes a drive-thru window.

Meek worked at the Lake Wylie CVS Pharmacy for almost 25 years. His wife worked for Revco in Clover for 10 years before staying home to raise their two children.

Jack Allen, postmaster of Lake Wylie Post Office, has owned businesses since the late 1970s in the Lake Wylie area. Four doors down from Lake Wylie Pharmacy, Allen said being in the pharmaceutical business these days has risks.

“Today, I’m not surprised,” Allen said. “I feel sorry for Larry; that’s not the way to start a week.”

As for the safety of his employees, Allen said, “That’ll always make you worry.”

But Linda Watkins, co-owner of Echo Attic which opened in January in Shoppes at the Landing, said “I still feel safe. We have security measures in place.”

Southeast Sports & Rehabilitation next to CrossFit Lake Wylie opened April 1 at 221 Latitude Lane, marking the first time the center has been completely full.

Plans for Shoppes at the Landing were first released in 2005.

Catherine Muccigrosso •  803-831-8166

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