Police: Robber held Shrewsbury Rite Aid employees at gunpoint, stole $35,000 in meds

Harper Ho
York Dispatch
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A Baltimore man is accused of holding three employees of a Shrewsbury Rite Aid at gunpoint late last year before making off with nearly $36,000 in drugs.

Jamal Alvin Lee Gwaltney, 30, of the 700 block of Villager Circle in Baltimore, faces charges of robbery, prohibited possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property, carrying a firearm without a license and theft by unlawful taking of movable property. All are felonies.

He also faces three counts each of terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another and simple assault, both misdemeanors. 

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Southern Regional Police responded about 8:55 p.m. on Dec. 21 to an armed robbery at a Shrewsbury Rite Aid, located at 577 S. Main St., according to charging documents.

A man had entered the store with a stolen, loaded Glock 23 handgun and held three employees at gunpoint before leaving with 80 different medications, charging documents says.

The hooded gunman pointed the semiautomatic weapon at each of the employees and threatened to shoot them if they didn't follow his demands, according to police.

He wanted oxycodone — which was stored in a locked safe in the pharmacy — and ordered everyone to the back of the store, according to charging documents.

"He forced (a victim) at gun point to the safe that contains the narcotic medicines. The robber was hitting/poking (the victim) in the head with the handgun," charging documents allege. "He told (the victim), he would shoot the other employees if he didn't open the safe containing the narcotic medicines."

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The robber also demanded other drugs from the general shelf area before he fled in a getaway car with the goods in a plastic bag, according to charging documents.

"Unbeknownst to the robber, secreted within the black plastic bag with the stolen narcotics was a GPS tracking device which activated upon being removed from the store," charging documents state.

Police matched the movement of the GPS device to a gray 2015 Ford Fusion that was on Interstate 83 and had stopped at a gas station on Falls Road in Baltimore, according to the criminal complaint.

Surveillance video at the gas station showed a passenger go into the store to buy some snacks while the driver, who police believe is the Rite Aid robber, got out and opened the trunk, charging documents say. 

When the Fusion left the gas station, an officer who was in the area followed the vehicle while Baltimore City Police responded, but the robbers had been alerted, according to charging documents.

The vehicle took off and ran through a stop sign before it went off the road and crashed into a pond, where the suspects abandoned the car and its contents, police said.

Officers retrieved $35,896.97 in goods stolen from the Rite Aid and impounded the car, according to charging documents.

The Ford Fusion was registered to a man in Maryland who had rented it to Gwaltney's girlfriend using a car sharing app, police said. Charging documents didn't indicate whether police were able to identity the second suspect.  

Gwaltney is considered a career criminal with an extensive criminal history, police said. He had not been arrested on the charges as of Tuesday afternoon.

Reach Harper Ho at hho@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @howdyhoharper.