ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office released surveillance video Monday from the June 3 robbery at Cunningham Drug in Bulls Gap, although authorities noted that video quality wanes in a crucial section of the footage.
The video can be viewed at www.timesnews.net. Still photos from the footage were also released by the HCSO, but the image quality was not sufficient for reproduction.
On June 3 about 12:05 p.m., a man carrying a handgun entered Cunningham Drug, 274 Highway 11-E, Bulls Gap, and demanded OxyContin and money from the cash register. The suspect was described as 6 feet tall, slender and wearing a black T-shirt, blue jeans and a “Titleist” black and white baseball cap.
He reportedly got away with 485 OxyContin pills ranging in strength from 20 to 60 milligrams. OxyContin, which sells on the street for about $1 per milligram, is a favorite target in drugstore thefts.
Video footage of the suspect is clear from two separate angles as he enters the store. He is seen talking to someone on a cell phone.
According to the HCSO report on the incident, as the suspect approached the drug counter he shut his phone, brandished a semiautomatic handgun and stated, “I normally don’t do stuff like this, but I’m on drugs.”
Footage from the VHS surveillance system isn’t as crisp as the suspect forces employees behind the drug counter at gunpoint and orders the pharmacist to produce the OxyContin in stock.
HCSO Detective Jeff Greer noted that it was a case of bad timing with regards to the later footage because that angle had been clear up to the point of the robbery.
The best shot at the suspect’s face is obscured by streaks from the apparently aged video cassette. Following the robbery, the HCSO submitted the video to enhancement experts, who cleaned it up as much as possible.
“The video probably would have been a little bit better had this been a newer digital system,” Greer said Monday. “I would advise business owners to get (a digital system) if they are looking at surveillance equipment. ... My advice would be to upgrade (older VHS surveillance systems).
“Usually the digital systems make enhancement of the image easier compared to the old VHS tape. After time (VHS tapes) begin to deteriorate. This is probably not a new cassette. It has probably been re-recorded many times, and over time it deteriorates and you get the interference we see here.”
Although there isn’t a perfect image of the suspect’s face, Greer said the footage could still help identify the suspect.
“His mannerisms, the way he walks, his actions while he was standing, and possibly his clothing — someone might recognize him by these factors,” Greer said. “They may recognize him as someone they know. I can tell my children from other children by the way they walk and carry themselves.
“Hopefully, someone will recognize this person and be able to call us and give us some information.”
Anyone with information about the June 3 Cunningham Drug robbery in Bulls Gap is asked to contact the HCSO at 272-4848.