Chelsea Pharmacy Defends OKC Man's Actions

Saturday, May 30th 2009, 10:15 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

CHELSEA, OK -- Workers at a Chelsea pharmacy are defending the actions of an Oklahoma City pharmacist charged with first-degree murder.

Jerome Ersland shot and killed a 16-year-old who was attempting to rob his pharmacy May 19.

Employees at Chelsea Family Pharmacy faced a similar situation when they were violently attacked two years ago.

"You don't know what it's like until you've had a gun in your face," Channing Stephenson said.

In May 2007, Stephenson was working in the Chelsea pharmacy with owner Chad Jones. A gunman came in demanding prescription painkillers. Police say the two complied, but they were horribly beaten with a hammer.

"I could have ran, but you freeze," Stephenson said. "It's like watching a movie in the bad part, and you think, ‘Oh, my gosh!'"

Jones suffered a fractured skull, a broken nose and two broken fingers on his left hand. Stephenson suffered a fractured skull and other injuries. Although attacker Steven James Pierce is in prison, the effects of the attack still linger.

"He's there, but my life is still messed up," Stephenson said. "Chad's life is still messed up. I mean, it doesn't make everything better."

That's why the pharmacy workers say you shouldn't be blamed should you need to defend yourself, like Ersland did.

"I don't think the pharmacist was excessive after what's happened to me and my family," said Amber Jones, another Chelsea Family Pharmacy employee.

"I don't think the pharmacist should be in any kind of trouble," Stephenson said. "You've got to take yourself into consideration first. Always protect yourself. That's what we tried to do. We did everything he asked, and we still got hurt for it."

Stephenson now finds comfort in her source of protection, a 3-year-old highly trained German Sheppard named Chili.

"If you and I were to get into a confrontation, you would obviously go down," she said.

The pharmacy has security cameras, and several employees have a license to carry a concealed weapon, something they say they wouldn't hesitate to use if threatened.

"You shoot first, ask questions later," Stephenson said.

"What we've told our employees now is if you can get away, get away and run," Amber Jones said. "Just leave."

5/14/2007 Related Story: Robbery Suspect Sought In Hammer Attack

5/28/2009 Related Story: Pharmacist Charged With Murder After Shooting Robber