Police: Soldiers used training to rob

September 16, 2009 4:54:03 AM PDT
Police say 24-year-old Joseph McClees was the brains behind a daring daylight robbery at McPhail's pharmacy in Lillington earlier this summer."They were very, very methodical, very cool - didn't get upset. Looked like they had some training of some sort somewhere," explained Police Chief Frank Powers.

Lisa Ledford was working behind the pharmacy counter. She said July 8 was a typical day on the job until two armed robbers barged in just before closing time demanding drugs.

"I was shocked, thinking 'This is not for real,' and the little cashier, when she got scared, my instinct was to take care of her to make sure she would not run cause I was afraid they would shoot her," she recalled.

In video from the store's surveillance camera, you can see one gunman order employees and customers to lie on the floor while a second man orders a pharmacist to fill a bag with prescription painkillers like Oxycontin.

Click here to watch the video

"They never screamed at us, but the guy who spoke he had an authoritative voice, and he said what he wanted. He did not mince words. He did not stutter. He was very demanding," said Ledford.

In all, police say the robbers got away with drugs with a total street value in the $10,000 range.

Now, police say a Fort Bragg soldier and a former soldier were behind the crime and that they used their Army training to plan the holdup. Investigators credit a confidential source for the tip that led them to McClees and second suspect - Ryan Terrell Early - who they say is still on the run and may be in Pennsylvania.

McClees was arrested on an unrelated kidnapping charge in Fayetteville and will now be charged with armed robbery in Lillington. Police say he was assigned to a military intelligence unit at Fort Bragg.

Detectives also say the Lillington robbery was very similar to other armed robberies in nearby counties, but so far they have not been able to connect McClees to any of them.

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