The scene outside The Healthy Choice yesterday, as captured by Channel 9.
The scene outside The Healthy Choice yesterday, as captured by Channel 9.

Turning the tables on robbers during medical marijuana dispensary stick-up yesterday the wrong thing to do, Denver Police spokesman says

The attempted armed robbery at The Healthy Choice Wellness Center yesterday was followed by lots of misinformation.

For instance, Channel 7 initially reported that three people were transported to an area hospital with unknown injuries. But according to Denver Police Department spokesman Officer Joe J. Ramirez, the only person hurt badly enough to require hospitalization was one of the two men who tried to stage the stick-up. His name isn't being released at this time, and police continue to search for his accomplice.

In the meantime, Ramirez emphasizes that the DPD in no way endorses the actions of Melissa Hernandez, sister of THC owner Rafael Hernandez, who grabbed the first gunman, precipitating shots from the second as he fled.

"We will not in any way advise anybody to attempt to disarm an armed suspect," he says.

In the wake of the robbery, the DPD issued a release, on view below, revealing that there have been 25 medical marijuana-related robberies since July -- thirteen at dispensaries, twelve at residences.

Why wait until a high-profile heist effort to share information like this, particularly given the public debate about medical marijuana right now? Ramirez doesn't offer an opinion on that, adding that the DPD has no plans to compare this number of incidents with those involving other types of businesses.

"We're not looking at those stats," he says -- although he allows that "these types of establishments do attract criminal elements, like banks or liquor stores do. You never hear of anybody robbing something like Discount Tires, but you do hear about businesses like these being robbed."

Even so, Ramirez stresses that "it's not the position of the Denver Police Department" to take the type of business into account when it comes to protection. "We are to remain neutral and impartial and respond to any type of crime from that perspective."

As for security recommendations for medical marijuana businesses, Ramirez defers on that topic as well: "The Denver Police Department doesn't give advice on on that kind of thing. They can take their own initiative and take the security measures they feel are necessary for their establishment."

Which, given those newly released robbery figures, may need to be more stringent down the line. Here's that DPD release:

Denver Police Investigate Attempted Robbery of Marijuana Dispensary

(Denver) On Tuesday, December 16, 2009 at approximately 10:06 a.m. officers responded to 3005 West Gill Place on the report of a robbery. When the officers arrived on scene and entered the business, they discovered one suspect who was being detained by employees. The suspect had sustained injuries as a result of a physical altercation with the victims. The second suspect fled the scene prior to the officer's arrival. Believing the suspect may have still been in the area, a search was conducted for the man who managed to elude authorities. The injured suspect, still on scene, was transported to Denver Health Medical center for treatment of injuries.

Police are still searching for the second suspect described as a Hispanic male, approximately 6 feet tall, short hair, with a slim build wearing a black coat. The suspect may also be injured.

Since July 2009, there have been a total of 25 medical marijuana related robberies or burglaries. 13 of which were dispensaries and 12 were residences. Weapons were used in the commission of several of the crimes.

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