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Man Charged With Robbing Columbia CVS With Blood-Filled Syringe

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) -- A man uses a syringe full of blood to steal thousands of dollars in prescription drugs from a Howard County pharmacy, and it's not his first attack.

Meghan McCorkell has more on this unusual heist.

That man told the pharmacist that blood was tainted with AIDS and threatened to stick her if she didn't hand over the prescription pills.

Police say Benjamin Frederick Blessing, 52, walked into the CVS on Centennial Lane in Columbia last month and held a blood-filled syringe he said was contaminated with the AIDS virus to a pharmacist's chest. He threatened to stab her if she didn't open a safe containing medication.

The robber got away with $27,000 in prescription pills.

"That's really bizarre. I guess you don't need a gun nowadays to hold up something," Elleda Simmons, a Howard County resident, said.

"Going to CVS, you'd never expect anything like that to happen, especially somewhere so close to home," Steven James, another Howard County resident, said.

And investigators say CVS wasn't Blessing's first hit. Police believe Blessing is also responsible for an attempted robbery in October at a Bank of America involving a mother and a 4-year-old child.

Surveillance images captured the robber approaching the mother and child with what appears to be a taser. He ran when the woman pointed outside and screamed for the police.

Police are now relieved to make an arrest before anyone was hurt.

"It's not something we've ever heard of here-- a syringe being used as a weapon or to imply that someone's going to do harm," Sherry Llewellyn, spokesperson for the Howard County Police Department, said.

Investigators say they found evidence inside Blessing's Columbia home, including the prescription drugs stolen from CVS.

He now faces multiple charges including robbery and assault.

Police say they have confirmed blood was inside that syringe. They are testing to see if was indeed contaminated with the AIDS virus.

A judge denied bail for Blessing on Wednesday.

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