Drugstore Owner Describes Terrifying Grenade Robbery
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Updated 09/29/11 – 3:36 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Lincoln Park neighborhood drugstore owner described harrowing moments this week, as a woman tried to rob his business with a hand grenade.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Taryn Lombardi, 26, of the 1500 block of West 19th Street, was charged with attempted armed robbery, battery and theft in the Tuesday afternoon robbery.
She was ordered held on $150,000 Thursday afternoon and a preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 4 in North Felony Court (Br. 42), Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Andy Conklin said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
The grenade the woman used in the robbery was non-functional fake. But Brett Pine, co-owner of Braun Drugs at 2030 N. Clark St., did not know that at the time.
He said the woman walked into the drugstore and hung around looking at merchandise for five minutes as she waited for customers to leave. He asked her if she needed help and she replied yes.
But then she covered her face and announced a holdup. The woman allegedly wanted Valium, narcotics and money, and she pulled out a hand grenade and threatened to pull the pin.
“It was pretty hard-core. I felt like she was seriously going to pull the pin. It’s hard to believe talking about it that it actually happened,” Pine said.
The woman ordered store employees to line up behind her on the customer side of the store, except for Pine, who remained behind the counter.
Some staffers whom the woman told to go lock the front door instead ran out and called police from a nearby bank. When the woman turned to lock the door herself, Pine grabbed the grenade, and the offender.
“I saw an opportunity to try and subdue her and take it from her,’’ he said. “When she went to close the door herself, she turned her back to me and that’s when I had the moment.”
Police were already on their way because someone in the pharmacy hit the silent alarm.
“It was one of the moments where you either act or you don’t — fight or flight took over,” Pine said.
While he held her to down, a third worker helped him, making sure Pine had her secured before going outside to wait for the police.
The police report said she bit the right hand of that worker, but he was not badly hurt. The woman was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center for cuts and abrasions received during the struggle with the staffers, the report said.
Though Police Bomb and Arson technicians got to the scene and found the device was a replica, Pine believes it was real, but with the explosives removed.
“It was a real grenade,” he said. “When she slammed it on the counter, you could tell it wasn’t a rubber toy.”
Pine said he has “great employees” and said he was very glad no one was hurt. He was back at work Wednesday afternoon.
“I acted on impulse and I was really very fortunate to get it from her without any harm to anyone. That’s the most important thing for us,” Pine said. “You can steal drugs and you can steal money but you can’t replace life.”
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.