Exxon Robbery Tied to Bath Salts

Harrisonburg Police say Greg Cahrles Maradeo is the man responsible for robbing the Exxon gas station in Harrisonburg Monday.

He was arrested shortly after the robbery.

Police say he walked into the Exxon convenience store on Reservoir Street, holding a metal rod and wearing a mask.

They say he stole the cash register and assaulted a female clerk.

The Harrisonburg police department says it is still conducting the investigation and sifting through evidence.

However, Mary-Hope Vass, Public Information officer with the Harrisonburg Police Department, is able to confirm Maradeo had "consumed bath salts prior to the incident."

Vass also says police are thankful no one tried to approach him, because when a person is under the influence of bath salts, they can be dangerous, very aggressive, show signs of paranoia or be suffering from hallucinations.

She says the aggressive and possibly violent behavior is of great concern for law enforcement.

The store clerk that was assaulted in the robbery returned to work Tuesday.

She says she's still a bit shaken up and has some bruises but is doing fine.

She adds Maradeo came into the store, asked for bath salts, and when she told him they did not carry them, he told her that they should and left.

He then allegedly came back into the store a few minutes later with a metal rod and that's when he took off with the cash register.

Orlando Torres also works at the Exxon station that was robbed and says this robbery comes as a surprise.

Employees say their store has never been robbed before, and they were shocked that it happened in broad daylight at one of Harrisonburg's busiest intersections at a very busy time of day.

Torres says people come in all the time looking for bath salts.

The Harrisonburg Police Department says the abuse of bath salts is a huge concern for officers.

Vass says, "We have seen more use and more reported incidents within the last few weeks to even months, so it's definitely something that we are aware of."

She also says it's important for the community to be aware of this synthetic substance.

Bath salts are a dangerous stimulant that has similar effects to cocaine or methamphetamine.

Another similar substance, Spice, has effects similar to marijuana.

Doctors say it's easy to overdose on something like bath salts and some people have even died from it.

The Harrisonburg Police Department says, once Gov. Bob McDonnell signs the bill making bath salts and Spice illegal and limiting access to such substances, it will be a benefit for the community.

Bath salts are already banned in three states, and many more, including Virginia, are trying to follow.

The Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously last month to ban bath salts.

McDonnell promised to sign the bill, but it has not been signed into law as of Tuesday.

A law addressing bath salts, Spice and similar products is also awaiting acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's signature in West Virginia.