Armed hold up at Twin Waters pharmacy. A man has sprayed employee's with chemical spray and produced a knife. January 16, 2014. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily
Armed hold up at Twin Waters pharmacy. A man has sprayed employee's with chemical spray and produced a knife. January 16, 2014. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily Patrick Woods

Hero cop shielded Twin Waters staff from bomb

A UNIFORMED police officer has been hailed as a hero for putting his unprotected body between fleeing hostages and what they believed to be a home-made bomb, after last week's terrifying armed holdup of a Twin Waters pharmacy.

Police have vowed to catch the man responsible for the holdup, in which hostages were also sprayed with what they had been led to believe was a toxic substance.

Sunshine Coast District Crime Group Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen briefed media yesterday, as police ramped up their hunt for the brazen bandit, who had donned a chemical hazmat suit as part of his ruse.

He sprayed pharmacy staff with an unknown substance, later found harmless, and threatened them with a knife before leaving what he said was a motion-sensor equipped bomb in the store while he made off with a cache of prescription drugs.

Det Insp Drinnen yesterday revealed the first-responding officer to the scene bravely placed himself in front of the suspected bomb, while pharmacy staff fled to safety. The heroic officer is believed to be Coolum policeman Ben Cox, who was the first to respond to the incident, just after midday, last Friday.

"When police arrived, the police officer has stepped in, stepped in front of the device, which allowed the persons to move out of the premises," Det Insp Drinnen said.

"He's (police officer) stood in front of the device and then he's told the others to move out behind him."

Det Insp Drinnen said pharmacy staff had been left rooted to the spot for over 20 minutes, afraid to move, until the office stepped in.

Further details of the device have been released by police, to try to elicit information that would assist investigating officers.

EVIDENCE: The knife used by the bandit and a CCTV image of the man outside the pharmacy, wearing a hazmat suit.
EVIDENCE: The knife used by the bandit and a CCTV image of the man outside the pharmacy, wearing a hazmat suit. Contributed

The "bomb", turned out to be a cylinder packed with playdough, wrapped with tape, with a Swann CCTV camera attached, the level of sophistication a cause of concern for detectives hunting the man, who remained at-large.

"Certainly he's obviously gone to some planning and some thought put into this," Det Insp Drinnen said.

"We have certainly got a large number of staff that are working on this.

"It's a crime that we will leave no stone unturned until we find this offender because we do not want... more people on the Coast having to suffer this sort of treatment that they've (pharmacy staff) gone through so we'll be extremely vigilant, we'll be tireless, and we will find this person," Det Insp Drinnen said.

TICKED OFF: The device left by the armed robber in the pharmacy during the robbery late last week. He told staff it was a bomb.
TICKED OFF: The device left by the armed robber in the pharmacy during the robbery late last week. He told staff it was a bomb. Contributed

There was a chance the offender could strike again, he said, and police had a number of persons of interest they were speaking to.

The detective said given the drugs targeted, specific, high-strength painkillers, the offender could be suffering a medical condition of some description.

Call Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.



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