Local News

Triangle pharmacists say threats, attacks are part of a typical work day

Posted February 15, 2019 9:15 p.m. EST
Updated February 16, 2019 8:13 a.m. EST

— One day after a customer opened fire inside a Garner Walgreens, wounding two people before he was shot by a Wake County deputy at a nearby restaurant, some pharmacists are saying threats are a daily occurrence on the job.

Pharmacist Gina Tandarich felt scared when she learned her former co-worker was one of the victims of the drug store shooting.

“It’s just sheer terror of what those people are going through,” she said.     

Tandarich used to work with Sarah Wright, the 31-year-old pharmacy manager who remains in critical condition following Thursday’s shooting. She said she knew what Wright and her coworkers must have been going through.

“I’ve been spit on multiple times, I’ve had people throw their prescription bottles, their prescriptions, pocket books, cellphones, bottles of stuff that was over the counter at me,” Tandarich said.

Authorities said the shooting at the Walgreens at 1116 U.S. Highway 70 stemmed from an issue customer Stephen Denning experienced with his medication.

Tandarich said the verbal and sometimes physical attacks and threats are all part of the safety concerns she’s had about being a pharmacist for years.

Rachel Factor shares those same concerns. She’s been a pharmacist for two years and, in that time, she said she’s experienced her share of customers who were angry about their prescriptions.

“I’ve had people scream, scream and holler and yell. Sometimes they threaten to call the police,” Factor said. “It can be difficult.”

Factor and others said telling someone their prescription can’t be filled or is delayed can be a difficult conversation at times. Ultimately, though, they said they’re just trying to do their job and follow the law.

“With the opioid crisis, the laws are getting stricter and the more strict they get, the worse it is on us, because people want that medicine and they want it now,” Tandarich said.

“Anytime you’re dealing with the public, you never know how people are going to react. You just have to hope for the best and try to provide the best service that you can,” Factor said.

Wright, according to friends, is alert and continues to recover at WakeMed. Her co-worker, Brandon Gordon, remains in critical condition.

Denning also remained at WakeMed on Friday night. When he is released, he will be taken into custody and charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.