72-Year-Old Former Mayor Shoots Crazed Armed Pharmacy Robber

Brandon Galette March 2018 mugshot (Left); Charlie Smithgall via Facebook (Right)

“Oxycodone! Where’s the Oxycodone?!” yelled Brandon Galette, who had just burst through the door of Smithgall’s Pharmacy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, wearing a black ski mask and brandishing a 9mm handgun. It was a little after 2:30 p.m. on October 22 and Galette had brought along an accomplice, also wearing a ski mask.

Galette and his accomplice proceeded to wreak havoc inside the store, terrorizing customers, forcefully throwing a woman into some display shelves, and continuing to demand Oxy. The two suspects then marched into the back room of the pharmacy where Galette pointed the gun at four different employees.

For a second, Galette turned his back to Charlie Smithgall, the 72-year-old pharmacy owner and former Mayor of Lancaster. That was Smithgall’s chance. He retrieved his own handgun and fired one round at the armed man.

Instead of firing back with his own weapon, Galette lunged at Smithgall to disarm him. As an intense struggle ensued, Smithgall fired three more shots. Eventually, the 24-year-old did succeed in disarming Smithgall. Severely wounded, Galette pocketed the pistol and fled the store. He then collapsed on a nearby street, where he was found shortly afterward by police, who provided medical treatment for multiple gunshot wounds before transporting him to the hospital.

Smithgall, like the woman who’d been shoved, suffered severe bruising and swelling all over various part of his body — but no gunshot wounds.

It may interest TTAG readers to learn that Smithgall, besides being a business owner and public servant, is a serious curator of antique weaponry. In fact, he graciously loaned several cannons, along with some antique firearms, to Steven Spielberg for the film Lincoln.

Charlie Smithgall with a cannon (via Facebook)

Galette has been charged with robbery, criminal conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking, aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, two counts of illegal possession of a firearm, firearms not to be carried without a license, and seven counts of simple assault. His accomplice is still at large. The investigation is still ongoing and authorities are still determining whether any charges will be filed against Smithgall. We’re guessing the answer will be no.

comments

  1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    Stopped shooting too soon.

    1. avatar Porridgeweasel says:

      Exactly what I was thinking…..

    2. avatar Sheer Hawai'i says:

      I wish there was a LIKE button, here…

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Use emojis or “+” followed by a number.

        1. avatar Educated donkey says:

          + a number

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “Use emojis or “+” followed by a number.”

          “+ a number”

          Thar ya’ go. Now yer gittin’ it.

    3. avatar Sam I Am says:

      Yep; shoot until the threat stops. Never believe your target will fall down because you used a handgun. Be prepared for the attack to continue.

      1. avatar Sheer Hawai'i says:

        👍

    4. avatar Sgt Bill says:

      9MM instead of a .40 thats why the perp is still alive

      1. avatar Kendahl says:

        Should have used a Creedmore.

        1. avatar Marc says:

          ……then his whole family tree would have perished.

        2. avatar M9 says:

          Shoulda used the cannon he owns.

        3. avatar JoeVK says:

          He should have had the chainsaw attachment.

      2. avatar Chris says:

        Smithgall didnt use the 9mm…the robber did.

    5. Most likely a “Mouse 🐁 Gun 🔫” .
      Upgrade to 9mm/.40 s&w/ .45 acp/10mm/.357 magnum, in a high-performance JHP or SJHP….

    6. …Aiming and marksmanship helps too….

  2. avatar Michael Buley says:

    Just another day in a pharmacy in America … another day anywhere. Thank God and those who carry everywhere, every day. Only regret is that the scum is alive.

    1. avatar Lost Down South says:

      In the interest of seeking a root cause of “just another day in a pharmacy”…I highly recommend you read one or more of these.

      They’re important history on the Sackler dynasty. Try not to call out TL:DR.

      https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/30/the-family-that-built-an-empire-of-pain

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/09/08/the-man-who-made-billions-of-dollars-from-oxycontin-is-pushing-a-drug-to-wean-addicts-off-opioids/

      https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/9/7/17831710/richard-sackler-opioid-epidemic-buprenorphine

      They killed my brother.

      1. avatar Anner says:

        It’s terrible that your brother experienced that, I truly wish he hadn’t. My grandfather is slowly but surely traveling the same path. He was once the paragon of integrity, hard work, and compassion in his small farming community. He was an outstanding father and grandfather. Back pain from years of working the land led him to try various pain relievers, and about 6yrs ago he started using opioids. I haven’t recognized him since 2014, he’s turned into a mere shell of his former self. He can barely speak a full coherent sentence while on meds. He’s not very old, and without the drugs redirecting his life he would still be a relatively spry and active individual (save for some back pain, which I do not downplay). His descent into this lifestyle has destroyed his relationship with the rest of the family.

        I don’t mention my grandfather to my young daughter, because she doesn’t need to know he even exists. He may as well not, given how he rarely reaches out to anyone anymore. He’ll drive hundreds of miles for random trips, visiting properties he owns or checking up on businesses. His route will take him within 20mi of various family, but he won’t stop. Stopping means delaying, which means grandpa has to wait longer for his next dose. He avoids dosing up while driving because he physically can’t drive while high on the stuff.

        All that to say, not a single Sackler or Purdue rep is to blame for my grandfather’s life changes. He took opioids, serious painkillers with no illusion of how addictive or powerful they are. It’s no different than the alcoholic that needs more quantity and more powerful booze to drown out the world, until it’s poisoning their kidneys and wrecking their family.

        It boils down to life choices, sometimes very small choices over long periods of time, that turn into habits. They have consequences. My grandfather could have proceeded with the back surgery every doctor he visited recommended many years ago; it likely would have fixed the root cause of his pain. But he didn’t, he turned to alcohol and narcotics.

        I say this as a nicotine addict. I started using it as a way to stay awake while driving to visit my wife (800mi away) on the weekends. I then used it to stay alert on long duration flights (operating the aircraft, not just a passenger), and now it’s become a habit. It’s terrible for my health, and someday I will sorely regret it. But not one ounce of blame is on Phillip Morris or Grizzly. It is 100% me.

        Blaming the product or the producer is incorrect and intellectually dishonest. Ruger or Sig don’t kill people—lunatics with a weapon (no matter type of weapon) do. Sound familiar?

        1. avatar Sheer Hawai'i says:

          I was in the hospital for a major diverticulitis issue. I am not on any prescribed medication. All I wanted was a diazepam/Valium to relax a little, but they wouldn’t give me one. Opioids, though, were constantly being pushed on me and I kept refusing them until I was released. It’s like the hospital system truly wanted to create another addict.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Anner, I smoked 2 packs a day for 40+ years. I took 2 Chantix a day for about 4 months and discovered that I had a half pack of smokes that had been sitting around for a week or two without me even thinking about them. Chantix can screw with your head (gave me FABULOUS dreams!), but if you can take it, and you can afford it, it absolutely works. Good luck.

        3. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

          This response is for both Anner and LarryinTX.

          Check your State or County health agencies, here in Montana anti-smoking meds are free (they figure that the cost for cessation meds is MUCH cheaper than the long-term costs to those same Agencies [taxpayers] for someone who continues smoking.) They may even be free depending on your health insurance carrier if you don’t want to try the County or State route.

          Like every addiction…YOU have to want to quit for any plan to succeed.

        4. avatar BASHer says:

          Thee step process to quitting. 1st get some Nicorette and chew as much as you want. 2nd wait two week and then stop engaging in “smoker” behaviors like going out for a smoke break with your buddies. The socialization that goes along with the habit is huge and you need to cut that before you deal with the addiction proper. 3rd taper off or take a three day weekend where no one else will be home and nothing going on and go cold turkey. It will suck but by the end of the third day you will be good enough to deal with life.

          Then enjoy the rest of your life and throw $4 in a pickle jar each day just to remind yourself what you are not wasting on smokes.

    2. avatar William W. says:

      Exactly. I have practiced Pharmacy in many scenarios for over 45yrs. before recently retiring. During those 45yrs, I guess 30yrs was in a “retail” setting. Those times were some of the scariest times in my lifetime. I was “robbed” at gunpoint once, and narrowly escaped another because I was running late to work. Each time with me or my associate, and all the other Pharmacy robberies in the area, the main demand was drugs , mostly narcotics. I was lucky to escape with my life, as some of the others ( who I knew personally) weren’t. Making it a “federal crime” seemed to slow the robberies down, but just temporarily. I ended up getting a license for concealed carry for self defense and protection for my employees. I still carry to this day, even after retirement. I refuse to be a victim again. Thanks for pointing out the dangers Pharmacists face today, when just trying to service the sick and those suffering. Remember this the next visit to a Pharmacy,!and be aware of the surroundings, it can happen anywhere and at anytime.

  3. avatar PATRON49IFT says:

    Been said before, “some people just need killing”.

  4. avatar RA-15 says:

    Police transported Galette to the hospital for care ? I say screw that , let him lay where he dropped and bleed out. Save tax dollars , let the garbage men pick up his remains , take him Allong with the rest of the trash to the nearest dump. Thank God for the Former Mayor and his being able to protect himself & his customers with his gun , great job Mr Mayor. 2 crazed , masked men with guns & oxycodone !! Now that could have become a much worse ending.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Leave him in the street?
      Dogs would come along and piss on him.
      Not fair to the dogs.

    2. avatar Whoopie says:

      I wonder if he finally got that oxycontin at the hospital?

  5. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    How does making drugs legal make crimes like this go away? I assume this unemployed criminal has no money to buy his intoxication of choice.

    I understand you Libertarians want to get intoxicated and not get arrested. Is that what this is really about?

    Unemployed drug addicts will rob and murder to get intoxicated. Do you believe that will not happen if drugs are made legal?

    ps.
    I just want to shoot drug addicts when they threaten myself or my family.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      Do you believe making anything completely legal will remove the dumbasses from doing dumb things?

      My point as a libertarian is the use of a drug, in your own place, not harming anyone, should not cost you 10 years in prison and a loss of rights. It’s not different than someone who comes home after work and has a couple beers or such. Same premise. Can you become an addict by doing that? Sure, but you can also become an alcoholic just as easily, and that stuff is perfectly legal.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        NO. You’re just one more undisciplined, self indulgent pothead playing the worn out “libertarian” card.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Legal, the drugs are way cheaper, doofus takes more, ODs, dies and is forgotten, good result. Or manages it, continues working and doping for 30 more years, good result. What’s the advantage of keeping it illegal, now, since the war on drugs has been going on for over 40 years and, today, you can buy any drug you want on any streetcorner of any town in America? We lost that war, quit fighting it. Empty the prisons and move on.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        The only problem.with those plans are we get to put up.with the losers, take care of their families and carry them financially.

        No thanks.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          I wonder why nobody ever totals up the social costs of no-knock raids, constant surveillance, and unconstitutional asset forfeiture.

          I think that plus the actual dollar cost, which has to be into the trillions by now, would make the better course pretty clear.

          Also, to be clear, drug legalization is a red herring in this instance. The drug this now-perforated goblin was after is legal…just heavily controlled and taxed.

        2. avatar Ardent says:

          I virtually always succeed in avoiding ad hominem attacks, but this is straining me, because that is just about the least informed thing ive seen in a long time.

          You are, and will continue to support drug users with free medical care, free money, reduced or free housing, free rehab and all their family as well through Medicaid, Medicare, section 8, SSI, SSD, and a whole host of other programs whether drugs are legal or not. However, while they remain illegal you’ll support them with everything they steal from you, the higher insurance you pay because of the rampant theft to support artificially expensive habits, and you’ll pay very dearly to incarcerate them, in ever increasing numbers through ever increasing taxes. You’ll pay with loss of liberties and rights and privilages. Youll pay for more police…you’re always going to be paying for them, there is no way out. However, you don’t have to pay so much, for the extra police, the surveillance, the high incarceration rates, the dimished rights…

          You could pay a whole lot less than you pay now, and get rid of expensive and dangerous bits of government, stop the assault on all our rights, and reduce suffering considerably in the process…or, you know, you can just keep pretending you aren’t paying.

        3. avatar GS650G says:

          Uninformed?
          Hardly. Study what makes society prosperous and which conditions destroy it and get back to us.

    3. avatar Ardent says:

      If pharmaceuticals were openly available one wouldn’t need a prescription, which can be difficult to obtain if one only wants the drug recreationally. Plus, there is little reason for oxy to cost more than say Excedrine, except enforced scarcity (controlled or partial prohibition), and insurance…if you could buy it over the counter, high, cash sales lead to lower cost in the economy of scale, and there isn’t the prescription issue to overcome. That’s why legalization decreases crime, particularly holding up pharmacies.

      Worse though, prohibition doesn’t work. The oxy on the street is from diverted prescriptions…consider this: a person has a script for 100 30s per month but only takes 30. They paid something between $10 and nothing at all for all 100, but can get $30-45 per pill on the street. Assuming they got them free on Medicaid and they have SSI, which pays $775 per month, selling 70 pills at $30 each nets $2100, or triples their income for the month, for no overhead and little effort.

      How do you stop that?
      Don’t give pain killer to people complaining of pain? That’s cruel, although we are getting there now, it wont last.
      Threaten them with jail? Most people sell all their pills to one person, who is buying from many people, and retailing them. This person gets caught, someone will take their place, and the person selling their script has virtually no chance of ever being caught.

      The bottom line is that you cannot stop them. Can’t. Period. There is only the illusion of control. For that illusion you get a situation where the 4th and 5th amendments have been badly damaged, the 2nd is under fire, and things like civil forfeiture are a reality, and are serious threats to freedom. Meanwhile, a person with a 3-30mg per day oxy habit needs to come up with (read:steal or prostitute) well over $100 per day, every single day, to buy what without prohibition would cost $5 or $10, meaning that it’s affordable even on minimum wage.

      Prohibition doesn’t work, drives crime and frankly, where “street” drugs are concerned basically is the reason for and primary driver of organized crime and street gangs in the US.

      Prohibition not only doesn’t work, it causes crime, and costs a ridiculous fortune. It is itself anathema to a free society, results in untold suffering, and is a major driver to the loss of other liberties and protections.

      On top of all this, drug prohibition in the US funds cartels in Mexico and Central America, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and various warlords in SE Asia. It destabilized governments, and degrades people. On top of all that is DOESN’T WORK! It just doesn’t. People are getting high on coke, heroin, oxy, meth, pot, alcohol and everything else under the sun, in record numbers, and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.

      Except…we could legalize, end prohibition. Get the government out of the Dr.-patient relationship, lower the cost of medicine, increase human dignity, reduce suffering, defund the cartels, virtually end street gangs, lower the over all, property, and violent crime rate, stand the 4th and 5th amendments back up, better protect the 2nd, end civil forfeiture, greatly reduce the size of government, reverse police militarization, eliminate no knock warrants, save absolute tons of money…

      Drug prohibition is morally wrong. It’s counter intellectual. It’s expensive. It harm’s human dignity. It is the primary root cause of crime in the US and responsible for the vast majority of murders. It is the greatest threat to our civil liberties. It, along with terrorism, is one of the biggest excuses for curtailing our liberties, and it funds terrorism!

      Just like gun control is really just about control, drug prohibition is entirely about government controlling people. Whatever the justification, more government control of people, of their health care, of their business, their money, and what they put into their own bodies is morally wrong, and anathema to liberty. Drug prohibition is a massive liability to our liberty, and a huge threat to what remains of our rights. It serves no useful purpose other than giving government control of people, and it thrives on anti intellectual, low information people, control freaks and misguided fools.

      Can we please, as POTG, agree that more government control is bad?

      1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

        Look at how expensive the legal marijuana is in Colorado. The drug cartels are selling it for way less money because they do not have licensing or taxes to collect. Legalizing didn’t help here.

        1. avatar Kendahl says:

          That just means Colorado is greedy. Legalization is being treated like a cash cow rather than a wiser public policy than prohibition.

      2. avatar Kendahl says:

        Agreed, prohibition hasn’t worked. During alcohol prohibition 100 years ago, consumption did decline but the social costs, such as enriching organized crime, more than offset the gains. My own suggestions are to:
        (1) Legalize everything with age restrictions like we have for alcohol and tobacco. Don’t get greedy about taxes.
        (2) Regulate potency and purity.
        (3) Severely punish dealers who use violence to enhance their business or are careless about potency or purity.
        (3) Punish addicts who commit crimes to finance their addiction on the basis of the crime with no consideration for their addiction.
        (4) Offer treatment to addicts who want to get off drugs.
        (5) Continue to rescue those who overdose.
        (6) Give the overdose cases we can’t rescue a Darwin Award.

        I sympathize with addicts who got hooked on medications during treatment for painful injuries. Nevertheless, it’s up to them to want to stop. I don’t sympathize with addicts who went out of their way to become addicted. Nobody prescribes meth, coke or any of the designer drugs. Still, if they want to recover, it’s wise social policy to help them.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          You make a very compelling case for eliminating virtually all law. Despite all the laws on the books, crime hadn’t disappeared, tax cheating hasn’t disappeared, financial fraud hasn’t disappeared. Fact it, people determined to commit crimes aren’t stopped by laws, and more laws. Just as NICS background checks have not stopped guns being used to harm or steal, no other law can eliminate what is currently criminal behavior. Laws are futile. “Good” people will be good, and “bad” people will be bad; laws are irrelevant.

  6. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Somebody picked the wrong drug store.

  7. avatar GS650G says:

    “who provided medical treatment for multiple gunshot wounds before transporting him to the hospital.”

    I would have tossed him a band aid and an aspirin.

    Or a few oxy pills to make it all better.

  8. avatar CNS says:

    Glad the robbery was foiled, but I have to be disappointed that the robber was able to take the victim’s gun and briefly flee the scene after being shot multiple times. Just goes to show things like shot-placement and stopping power really matter. I wonder what kind of gun Charlie Smithgal was using.

    1. avatar Ardent says:

      Agreed to an extent…but the larger problem to me is that the defender fired once and stopped. Regardless of caliber, ammo or to some degree shot placement, this wasn’t likely to have gone the way it did had he just continued shooting until the threat ended.

      1. avatar Outwardhound says:

        Yep. And it reads as if he didn’t have his firearm on his person and had to retrieve it from somewhere else. Always always keep your defensive tool on you and carry the largest caliber/capacity reasonable for your situation. Oh, and as you say … keep shooting til shooting ain’t needed no more.

  9. avatar possum says:

    Pharmacy’s should be drug stores, it’s all for sale. They should have just given the guy the drugs , they are probably insured, and saved ammo and a beating. Possum logic says” Give them druggies all the dope they want, won’t be long before the’re gone.”

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Sounds like the same advice that they used to give rape victims, don’t fight just relax and let it happen.

    2. avatar Kendahl says:

      That makes sense if the robber calmly tells the pharmacy staff that he doesn’t want to harm anyone and the sooner they give him the drugs the sooner he will be gone. In this case, the robbers raised hell as soon as they entered the store. When a robber after drugs behaves like that, it’s reasonable to believe they are out of the heads and can’t be trusted.

  10. avatar Jb says:

    This is my hometown. The Smithgalls are a very nice family. They actually have a gun store in the back with very reasonable prices and recommend you check it out if you’re in the area.

  11. avatar Widdler says:

    “Theft by unlawful taking”..really….nobody

    1. avatar Gralnok says:

      Reckless driving by motor vehicle?

  12. avatar luigi says:

    looks kinda like eric andre’s evil cousin

  13. avatar Gralnok says:

    If one shot fails to stop the threat, fire another. If that one doesn’t work, mag dump and make a note to practice more.

  14. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    As I’ve said before I have no problem If you do drugs in your own home. The problem with the Libertarians, Liberals, and the Left, is they ALL DON’T believe in PERSONAL responsibility.

    I say let the drug addict die. Why are you all against drug testing for anyone getting government school loans or welfare??? Or any government money? This is why I say you are enablers.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email