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Manager, officer talk about pharmacy robbery

April 13, 2012 2:05:04 PM PDT
There's a first-hand account of the armed robbery that happened at a pharmacy in East Harlem.

The pharmacy manager who was robbed and a retired NYPD Lieutenant who fired at one of the robbers spoke out.

His shot likely killed the suspect.

The shooting was captured on video Thursday afternoon.

Alex Catu can laugh now, but it was a much different story Thursday.

The East Harlem pharmacy he's managed for 22 years was held up at gunpoint.

It was a robbery that ended in dramatic fashion with one of the suspects dead.

The sound of gunshots was captured on cell phone video.

It all started when the suspect identified as Rudy Wyatt walked into the crowded store, made everyone lie down and first demanded money, then the painkillers Oxycontin and Percocet.

Catu says he immediately thought of last year's pharmacy robbery in Medford in which four people were killed.

"That flashed in my mind when I pressed the panic button, I said I don't want that to happen here," Catu said.

Cameras at a nearby housing project show police responding and restraining an accomplice outside.

They retreated when Wyatt ran out. Police say he tried to fire three times, but the gun jammed.

That's when retired NYPD Officer Thomas Barnes stepped in.

The former lieutenant was at a gas station across the street.

Barnes shot and killed Wyatt.

Friday he spoke outside his home on Long Island.

"I'm just happy to be home with my family and happy that everyone's ok, the cops and the civilians in the store," Barnes said.

It's a feeling of relief echoed by customers.

"I never thought it was going to come over here, I mean, these people are good, everybody comes here, this place has been here for a long time," said John Pisacano, a customer.

"Life goes on and we have to work for the community, that's it," Catu said.

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