OAKDALE — A Walgreens store was evacuated here Monday morning after a knife-wielding man forced a pharmacist to call police for him so he could divulge details about a homicide in Ceres.
When police arrived on scene, the man ingested a handful of painkillers, presumably in an effort to commit suicide, said Sgt. Joe Johnson.
The incident started just after 8 a.m. when an Oakdale police dispatcher received a call from a pharmacist at the Walgreens at 444 W. F St. She told the dispatcher there was a man at the pharmacy who wanted to talk about a murder that happened in Ceres several years ago.
After the man spoke with the dispatcher for several minutes, he handed the phone to the pharmacist, Johnson said. When the dispatcher asked the pharmacist if she was all right, she said the man had a knife and was robbing the pharmacy of prescription painkillers.
Officers responded to the Walgreens and evacuated patrons and employees while making their way to the pharmacy at the back of the store, Johnson said.
The armed man was in the process of swallowing a handful of Vicodin and Oxycontin when officers reached him. They ordered him to drop his knife, and he complied. The pharmacist was not harmed.
The suspect, Vernon Dewayne Odom, 49, of Oakdale, was taken to the hospital for treatment.
When he is well enough to be released, he will be booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on suspicion of armed robbery, Johnson said.
Johnson said officers are trying to determine what homicide Odom was talking about and whether he had any involvement in it.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2366.