New Berlin pharmacist recalls facing gunman during attempted robbery
NEW BERLIN - A man brought a gun into a New Berlin pharmacy, after the pharmacist refused to fill his invalid prescription for Oxycodone. It happened in the area of W. Greenfield Ave. and S. Sunny Slope Road around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The pharmacist hit the security alarm, and within minutes a SWAT team surrounded the pharmacy with guns drawn. An armored assault vehicle was also sent to the scene, as negotiators tried to talk the gunman out. Other businesses in the area were put on lock down.
It was the pharmacist, who was able to effectively diffuse the situation.
"After I refused to fill his prescription, he was angry," says pharmacist, Bob Steib. "He walked out, and came back 15 minutes later with a shot gun. The few other employees that were in there with me got out through the front door when he came back in."
Bob says records showed that the gunman had used the pharmacy before to fill an Oxycodone prescription, but he didn't recognize him.
"When I told him that I could tell it was an invalid prescription, he accused me of lying to him, and ordered me to fill it," Bob says. "I told him that police are surrounding the place, and that he won't get away with this, so he should just put the gun down. He was distressed."
During this scary encounter, the phone rang, and the gunman directed Bob to answer it.
"I knew I couldn't talk for long, and I didn't want the situation to escalate, so I calmly answered the phone like nothing was wrong," Bob describes.
The call was from Frank Vitucci, owner of Vitucci's Pizza, which is located in the same strip mall as the pharmacy. Frank was calling to find out why all the businesses were being put on lock down.
"Bob was extremely calm on the phone," Frank says. "He told me everything was fine and that he had to go. It was really fishy. I knew something was wrong."
Shortly after, Frank watched as police entered the pharmacy.
"Police were able to finally enter, because the gunman surrendered his gun to me," Bob says. "I think talking to him helped. He knew he couldn't win this. So I took his gun and walked it out of the pharmacy to the officers. Then, they went in for him."
"I couldn't believe I had called right as it was happening," Frank says. "Thank God no one was hurt."