Armed pharmacist fires back at would-be robbers

(AP Photo/Marina Riker, File)

It was a quiet Tuesday afternoon at the Lexington Pharmacy in Lexington, North Carolina… at least until two men walked into the store with robbery on their mind. According to local authorities, the two men pulled guns and fired shots at the pharmacy manager, but they were apparently unaware that the manager had a gun of his own and was willing and ready to defend himself and others inside the shop.


Steve Koontz is the pharmacy manager at the Lexington Family Pharmacy. He said two masked men came to rob the pharmacy and shot at him. Koontz legally carries at the pharmacy and fired back.

He heard a man yelling for everyone to put their hands above their heads.

“I look up, and it’s a tall guy in a mask, and he had a gun pointed at my cashier,” Koontz said.

Koontz heard his coworkers scream and says the alleged robber fired a shot before a second person darted inside.

The robbery suspect’s bullet reportedly hit a computer monitor.

“I said ‘I’m going to do what I need to do to defend myself and my loved ones there,’” Koontz said.

The two men took off, and Koontz says he went outside, and they fired at each other again.

Koontz was grazed in the head by one of the rounds fired by the robber, but thankfully he wasn’t seriously injured. And unlike other self-defense shootings on the job that have led to armed employees being fired, Koontz’s job is secure. In fact, it sounds like the store owner and Koontz’s fellow employees don’t want him going anywhere.


“You find with Mr. Koontz, it wasn’t a good opportunity for these folks to come in today. Sometimes, you break into the wrong place, and there are people who fight back, and Mr. Koontz did a great job today,” said Russell Patterson, owner of Lexington Family Pharmacy.

Five other employees were able to go home safely tonight. They all credited Koontz.

The staff is also grateful for the rapid police response, saying a large number of officers arrived in under a minute to begin their investigation.

The fast response is noteworthy, but even with officers responding in less than 60 seconds, it was up to Koontz to protect himself and everyone else in the store. That’s not a knock on police, just a reminder that no matter how quickly law enforcement responds to the scene of a crime, they’re rarely on hand when something like this unfolds.

In this case, because Koontz was armed no one in the store was seriously injured or killed and authorities were able to take two suspects into custody. 31-year old Marcellus Robinson has been charged with a variety of offenses, including attempted armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and 22-year-old Bryson Moss is facing charges of attempted armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. I don’t know if their encounter with an armed citizen will have any impact on their choices in life going forward, but I have a sneaking suspicion that other would-be armed robbers will be giving the Lexington Pharmacy a pass in the future… at least if they’re paying attention to the local news. If they’re looking for an easy score, that’s not the place to be, especially if Steve Koontz is behind the counter minding the store.


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