Columbia pharmacy robbed using a syringe of blood the robber said was tainted with AIDS

COLUMBIA, Md. - A Columbia man has been charged in connection with a pharmacy robbery where police say he threatened people with a syringe full of blood he said was tainted with AIDS.

Police say 52-year-old Benjamin Frederick Blessing is charged with armed robbery, first and second-degree assault, theft, and reckless endangerment for the incident, along with a previous robbery at an ATM last fall.

Officers were called to the CVS Pharmacy in the 3300 block of Centennial Lane on April 18th for a reported robbery.

Police say employees told them that a man entered the store, walked to the pharmacy counter, and pulled out a syringe that he told them contained AIDS-tainted blood.

The employees told police Blessing held the syringe near the pharmacist's chest, and forced her to open a safe with prescription medications inside.

Police say some of the blood came out of the syringe, but missed the pharmacist.

The employees say Blessing left with more than $27,000 worth of prescription medications.

No one was injured during the robbery.

Police reviewed surveillance video, and after investigating, were able to identify Blessing as the person responsible.

Blessing's home was searched and police say they found some of the medications stolen during the robbery.

Police say they were able to confirm that there was blood in the syringe, but they are testing it to figure out if the blood contained the AIDS virus.

Blessing has also been charged for an incident that happened October 10th of last year, when they say he tried to get cash from a woman with her four-year-old child at an ATM machine in Columbia.

The woman told police she and her child were in the ATM vestibule at the Bank of American in the 9200 block on Old Annapolis Road when a man approached her with what looked like a taser, and demanded money.

She was able to distract him and run out with her child without being harmed.

Again, using surveillance video, police say they identified Blessing as the man responsible.

Blessing is being held in the Howard County Detention Center on $170,000 bond.

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