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Helper police officers arrest, book suspect in robbery case

Sun Advocate reporter

Chuck's Pharmacy reassumes a calm demeanor following an alleged attempted armed robbery incident in downtown Helper last week. Investigators arrested a 29-year-old suspect in connection with the case.

Helper police arrested 29-year-old Dustin Burnside of Price last week in connection with an attempted armed robbery that reportedly occurred Thursday in Helper.

Just after 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 25, law enforcement personnel with the Helper agency responded to a report of a "crazy person" at Chuck's Pharmacy.

Personnel at the pharmacy advised police who responded to the incident that a male subject had entered the store and remained inside for some time, pacing back and forth.

Eventually, the man approached the assistant manager of the store and demanded all of the store's inventory of oxy cotton.

Oxy cotton is the street name for oxycodone hydrochloride, marketed under the name OxyContin by a Connecticut-based drug maker, Perdue Pharma.

The drug is a narcotic approved for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, during recent years, abuse of the drug has increased.

The assistant manager denied the request to hand over the drugs. At that point, witnesses indicated that Burnside stated he had a vial which, when crushed, would explode and release harmful fumes for a 25-mile radius.

After the alleged threat, the man fled the store, running north on Main Street to the rear of buildings located behind the pharmacy.

Helper police issued an attempt to locate, giving the description of the alleged suspect.

The attempt to locate was broadcast by the department of public safety's communications center in Price.

Dustin Burnside

The Carbon County Sheriff's Office immediately responded to the emergency public safety dispatch to assist Helper police.

A Utah Department of Transportation supervisor contacted Helper police, relaying information pertaining to a seasonal employee he had seen in Helper, according to the criminal investigators.

The UDOT supervisor purportedly said he had come in contact with a man fitting the description, possibly wearing the same clothing that had been initially reported by witnesses at the crime scene.

Members of the Helper police department and county sheriff's office came into contact with Burnside, who fit the description, at the Handy Mart on Main Street and detained the subject for further investigation.

Law enforcement officers collected evidence from the scene of the alleged robbery incident and the surrounding area as well as information from witnesses.

Following the preliminary investigation, Burnside was arrested for attempted armed robbery and terrorist threats and booked into the county jail.

On Aug. 26, bail for Burnside was set at $50,000.

Police said the case came to a conclusion quickly due to the community and law enforcement agencies working together.

The Aug. 25 incident is the second robbery case that Helper police have investigated in a period slightly more than one year. Wells Fargo Bank was robbed on July 20, 2004. A conviction in that crime has placed a subject in federal prison.

Police Chief George Zamantakis said these types of crimes are often difficult for small agencies to investigate. Many smaller agencies lack the manpower required to properly obtain reports from witnesses, gather evidence, process the evidence and complete the investigation in a manner that insures the persons involved are properly adjudicated.

"Due to law enforcement coming together and working as a team on crimes that occur in our county, we are able to accomplish our goals of keeping the citizens we serve safe from persons that pose a threat to public safety," said Zamantakis.

The police chief commended David Johnson, the UDOT supervisor who reported the location of the alleged perpetrator, for assisting law enforcement in their investigation of the incident.

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