Local pharmacist fights off robber with metal pipe
A pharmacist turned the tables on a would-be robber in Chattanooga. Police say Thomas Holland had a gun when he forced his way into a CVS on Hixson Pike. It ended with Holland being taken to the hospital.
47-year-old Thomas Holland is charged with aggravated robbery. The Hamilton County Jail says he's in the process of being booked after being released from the hospital for injuries he received during his run-in with the pharmacist he tried to rob.
"It's scary," customer Julie McClary said.
Word of the assault is spreading throughout the North Chattanooga neighborhood, where people like Julie McClary, are regular customers of the Hixson Pike CVS, near Barton Avenue. They know pharmacist 54-year-old Tom Rawls.
"He knows who I am and he's a nice man," McClary said.
Rawls was the pharmacist on duty around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, when Chattanooga Police say suspect Thomas Holland came in with a gun and demanding pills.
"Then once he got the pills, he demanded the pharmacist to get in the car and ride off with him to drive him to a certain place," Chattanooga Police Department Sgt. Wayne Jefferson said.
That's when they say Rawls made a move to protect himself, and potentially his customers and co-workers. He grabbed a metal pipe and hit Holland in the head and shoulder.
"He felt like he was going to be kidnapped and he felt like he couldn't go there so he defended himself," Sgt. Jefferson said.
Police say Holland was on the ground when they arrived on scene. He has minor injuries. Neighbors say they're thankful pharmacist Rawls' quick actions kept Holland from whatever he planned to do next.
"I'm proud of him. I think it was a brave man to do that," McClary said.
Holland has a criminal history that includes two assault convictions in 1992 and five "obtaining drugs by fraud" convictions in 1997. Sgt. Jefferson hopes this latest incident teaches him and other would-be robbers a lesson.
"I hope it does. That way they won't rob anymore. That's all we can do is wish for such things to be true," Sgt. Jefferson said.
McClary says Rawls deserves at least a pat on the back when he returns to work for his heroic actions.
"Maybe he'll get a raise," McClary said.
Sgt. Jefferson wasn't able to offer any stats Friday for pharmacy robberies in our area, but say the rate is not as high here as in other cities this size. He thinks part of that is because most are locking up their pills and making them harder to find.
He says this is the first time he's heard of a suspect asking the pharmacist to be their getaway driver.
Again, Thomas Holland is charged with aggravated robbery.
CVS declined to comment.