Clovis News

Fresno man held in drug robberies

A Fresno man was arrested Thursday afternoon on suspicion of six armed robberies and four attempted armed robberies at area pharmacies, ending a nearly seven-month investigation, police said.

John Bates, 26, was arrested at his home at 2 p.m., about a half-hour after allegedly holding up a Walgreens in Fresno, said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Bates told officers he had a "severe addiction" to OxyContin, Dyer said. A normal dosage for OxyContin is 80 mg every 12 hours. Bates told officers he was taking five 80-mg pills per day.

"He said that wasn't enough to make him high, only to keep him from going into withdrawals," Dyer said.

Bates stole at least 2,000 OxyContin and methadone pills since his first robbery Oct. 4, police said.

Dyer said the first robbery was followed by another in November and two more in December. Bates made three robbery attempts Jan. 5 before taking 400 OxyContin and 400 methadone pills from a pharmacy in Clovis, Dyer said.

The robberies stopped until late March, Dyer said, because Bates was allegedly stealing OxyContin from his mother's prescription for the drug.

During each robbery, police said, Bates handed clerks a note demanding OxyContin, saying he had a weapon and an accomplice. Dyer said police now believe there was no accomplice, and are not certain whether Bates was ever armed.

Firearms were seized at Bates' home, where he lives with his parents, but police do not believe the weapons were used in the robberies or attempts. He was booked into Fresno County Jail.