Police in Portland, Ore., are searching for a man who witnesses say robbed an ice cream store by brandishing a syringe that he claimed was "full of AIDS."
It happened Tuesday night at a Baskin-Robbins in downtown Portland. Katharine Pepin, who was working there that evening, told police that a man in brightly colored clothing entered the store at closing time and pulled out a hypodermic needle, claiming it was infected.
"Some guy just walked in and said, ‘This is a robbery. This is a needle full of AIDS,’ and then ‘Open the cash drawer,’ and so I did,” Pepin, 19, told KATU. She said whatever was in the syringe looked like blood.
The man escaped on foot with an undisclosed amount of money, but no one was hurt.
The suspect is described as a white man in his 20s, 5 feet 3 inches tall and skinny with short brown hair and glasses.
KGW reports that this is the second time the store has been robbed in a week. Police told the station that many of the armed robberies in the area involve suspects who use intravenous drugs, like heroin.
This isn't the first time a syringe has been used as a weapon in an armed robbery. In May 2012, a Maryland man robbed a pharmacy and threatened employees with a syringe that he claimed was filled with HIV-infected blood. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
In 2011, a man who robbed a cupcake bakery in Denver used the same ploy, holding the needle inches from an employee's skin. Owner Carrie Bach told Denver Westword that the syringe was "actually more frightening" than if he'd come in wielding a gun.
"It was a really creepy weapon to use," she said.