Drug store owner thanks police

ESCANABA – The owner of the downtown drug store that was robbed last week expressed a great deal of gratitude and respect for Escanaba Public Safety during council’s regular meeting Thursday.

“I’m here to express our gratitude for them,” Rob Bodjanac, owner of People’s Drug Store, told council during Thursday’s public comment.

Bodjanac’s business at 1208 Ludington St. was robbed at gunpoint at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9. The suspect fled the building after receiving the drugs he demanded. Five employees escaped from the building unharmed.

The suspect remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous.

“When he turned to leave, my people went out the front door,” said Bodjanac who was in Gladstone at the time of the robbery.

The employees did not know if the gunman had left the store so police surrounded and secured the property, treating it as a possible hostage situation.

Escanaba Public Safety responded to the scene within 54 seconds, noted Bodjanac. Assisting city police were the Delta County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police.

Bodjanac told council the drug store has had many break-ins and attempted break-ins during the past 34 years. Following each incident, the business beefs up its security system in some way like installing another camera, he said, adding the improvements don’t necessarily make the store more safe.

“What makes us feel more secure is the response we did get from our public safety people,” he said, commending the officers for their in-depth look at surveillance video and their systematic plan to enter the building.

After securing the entire 1200 block and its perimeter for three and a half hours, a team of public safety officers entered the store but did not find the suspect.

Bodjanac also praised the local police force for treating him and his employees with respect and professionalism during the investigation.

He also told council that officers who come into the store as customers have questioned him in the past if he knows what to do in case of a robbery.

“Public safety officers have coached us over the years what to do,” he said, expressing his great appreciation for the local police department.

Police continue to follow up on the many tips coming into the department, said Public Safety DIrector Ken Vanderlinden following Thursday’s meeting.

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the robbery suspect.

Based on witness testimony and surveillance video, the gunman is described as a 5-feet-10-inch-tall white male in his early 20’s with brown hair and a slender build.

Escanaba Public Safety can be reached at (906) 786-5911.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net