Rite Aid robbed in Waterville; third Maine pharmacy theft this week

Posted Aug. 21, 2012, at 10:14 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2012, at 4:15 p.m.

WATERVILLE, Maine — Two men were arrested Tuesday after an early morning robbery at a Rite Aid Pharmacy in Waterville, according to police.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said Kyle Hunter, 19, and Lance Vashon, 34, both of Waterville, are facing Class B felony robbery charges.

Tuesday’s incident marks the third Rite Aid robbery in Maine in the past week. A Rite Aid was held up in Bucksport on Aug. 15, and another robbed in Newport on Aug. 16. Suspects in both incidents remain at large.

Massey said Vashon and Hunter entered the establishment around 8 a.m., handed a pharmacist a threatening note demanding OxyContin pills and fled.

A store clerk even asked the suspects to remove hooded sweatshirts, ball caps and sunglasses that they were wearing, but Massey said they didn’t comply and kept walking toward the pharmacy.

The clerk, however, had a hunch what the suspects were up to and called 911.

“By the time they fled the store we had an officer almost in the parking lot,” said Massey. “It ended well for us.”

The suspects wound up ditching a backpack in which the drugs were found in a garbage can outside the store, Massey said, and even though they scattered in different directions police quickly found them.

After the men were detained, surveillance footage confirmed that Vashon and Hunter were responsible, and they were placed under arrest.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Tuesday’s robbery marks the 37th pharmacy robbery statewide in 2012. Only 28 pharmacy robberies were reported last year.

“I’ve said right along that eventually one of these pharmacy robberies is going to end in tragedy or in someone being seriously hurt,” said Massey.

Hunter has had brushes with the law before, Massey said. At the time of his arrest, he was on bail for a prior assault charge, resulting in a probation hold.

Hunter and Vashon were both transported to the Kennebec County Jail, where they both remain Tuesday afternoon. Hunter’s bail was set at $5,000 cash and Vashon’s at $2,500.

They face up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted. The men are due in Kennebec County Superior Court on Oct. 10.

Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies assisted Waterville police at the scene.

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