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Police: Woman charged over poisoned juice at California Starbucks store

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 9:12 PM EDT, Tue April 30, 2013
Baristas prepare drinks at the new Starbucks outlet in New Delhi, India, on February 6.
Baristas prepare drinks at the new Starbucks outlet in New Delhi, India, on February 6.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A customer spotted the suspect switching out the bottles, Starbucks says
  • Ramineh Behbehanian, 50, has been charged with attempted murder, police say
  • She is accused of tainting two bottles of orange juice with rubbing alcohol
  • "It was a lethal dose," a police spokesman says

(CNN) -- A California woman who police say planted two bottles of tainted orange juice at a San Jose Starbucks has been charged with attempted murder, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Ramineh Behbehanian, 50, is accused of adding rubbing alcohol to the contents of the bottles and then placing them into a refrigerated display case, Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer told reporters.

"According to our San Jose firefighters that were on scene and the fire captain there -- they really are the experts there -- it was a lethal dose," he said.

Behbehanian was arrested Monday after a customer spotted her allegedly pulling out two bottles of orange juice from a bag and putting them in the display case, he said.

The customer reported it to employees, according to police. The customer also got a license plate number, and investigators later traced the plate to Behbehanian's residence, Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson said.

The employees immediately pulled the bottles of orange juice from the display case, and the store was evacuated until firefighters could determine the contents of the bottles, Hutson said.

The store employees pulled all the remaining juices from the cold case and destroyed them, he said. Nearby Starbucks stores were also notified of the incident and told to check the juice bottles.

Hutson said the coffee chain was "immensely grateful" to the customer who alerted employees to the tainted juice bottles.

Dwyer would not comment on the evidence in the case nor a possible motive, saying authorities were "still very much in investigative mode."

He did say the bottles were opened rather than injected by a syringe.

CNN's Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.

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