(Howard County Police Department )
Howard County police have charged a man with holding up a pharmacist in Columbia with a syringe filled with blood that he claimed was tainted with the AIDS virus according to authorities.
Police said the man got away with $27,000 worth of prescription drugs. The authorities said they confirmed the syringe contained blood and are testing it to determine if it indeed carried the virus.
The suspect has been identified as Benjamin Frederick Blessing, 52, of the 5200 block of Golden Sky Court in Columbia. Police said he also has been charged in an attempted robbery of a woman last fall at an ATM in Columbia in which she and here 4-year-old child were held up.
Blessing has been charged with armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, first and second degree assault, theft and reckless endangerment. Police said they searched his home and found "several items of evidence" including medications they said were taken during the April 18 robbery of the pharmacy.
In that case,police said he walked into a CVS in the 3200 block of Centennial Lane about 4:20 a.m. and went to the pharmacy counter. Police said he "produced a syringe that he said contained AIDS-tainted blood."
Police said he held the syringe "near the pharmacists's chest and forced her to open a safe containing prescription medication. Some of the blood was dispensed from the syringe but missed the pharmacist."
The robbery a the ATM at a Bank of America in the 9200 block of Old Annapolis Road occurred about 1 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2011. Police said a man approached a woman holding what appeared to be a Taser and demanded money.
The woman said she saw a cab pull up and she pointed to it and screamed that the police were there. The man then ran away without taking any money. The woman was holding her 4-year-old child at the time.
Police said they identified Blessing from video surveillance photos at the bank, and he has been charged with attempted armed robbery in connection with that case. Police said Blessing was being held at the Howard County Detention Center on $170,000 bail.