JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Police say robbers hit five stores in Johnson City over the past week, leaving some wondering if violent crime is on the rise in the city.
News 5 asked the city's police chief what's behind the recent spike of robberies.
Day after day over the past week, we've reported on convenience store robberies in Johnson City, and this Monday robbers struck again -- this time at Bevins Pharmacy on North Roan Street.
Brian Bevins owns the pharmacy. "A gentleman came in and appeared at the counter, and yelled that he wants all of our oxymorphone and oxycodone," said Bevins. "So to get our attention he pulled his gun out, held it into the air, and pulled the trigger."
Bevins tells us the suspect fired the gun into the ceiling.
Just three days before the pharmacy hold-up, police say someone robbed a clerk at the Roadrunner Market at East Oakland Avenue and Princeton Road.
Robbers also hit three other stores earlier last week. "What we are seeing is what we'd typically refer to as a spike," said Chief Mark Sirois, Johnson City Police.
We asked Sirois what could cause the sudden rise in violent crimes. "That appears to be anomaly at this point; it's just something that happens on occasion. If you look at criminal activity, you usually see patterns in a rise of a particular type of crime," said Sirois.
He adds robbers often target convenience stores because many of them are open around the clock.
While Sorois doesn't think these crimes are leading to more dangerous city, he admits the increased criminal activity is likely brought on by drug addicts getting desperate for money to feed their habit, a trend that's hurting businesses and instilling fear behind the counter. "[We're] kind of in disbelief. Could we have done something different, where we prepared?" asked Bevins.
The Johnson City Police Department tells us the investigations into the robberies are still ongoing, so they could not say if they are connected.