NJ pharmacist fires on holdup man, foils robbery

Sep 13, 2012, 10:07 PM

Associated Press

(AP) – A New Jersey pharmacist who is also an Army reservist pulled out a handgun and fired several shots at a would-be robber as he chased him from his store, authorities said. Police said it did not appear any shots hit the fleeing holdup man, who had demanded narcotic painkillers.

“I’m no hero, but I thought, `Either him or I,'” John Agyemang, who opened Jolin’s Pharmacy in the southern New Jersey town of Winslow about three months ago, told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.

In a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, a day after the attempted holdup, the pharmacist said he had spotted a gun on the robber, who was shown in surveillance video wearing a blue dress, long wig and black sneakers.

The surveillance footage released by police showed the stocky man pacing nervously in front of Agyemang’s counter, the pharmacist sticking out his hand as if he were trying to hold him off, then retreating backward into an office a few steps away before disappearing from view.

Cameras also caught the pharmacist with his gun drawn going after the robber, said Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County prosecutor’s office, but that footage was not made public because of the ongoing investigation. Laughlin said the portion that was released was distributed solely to get the public’s help in identifying the suspect. No camera, he said, captured the actual shooting outdoors.

The pharmacist told investigators that he believed he saw the butt of a gun in the would-be robber’s fanny pack.

The prosecutor’s office said that the pharmacist fired several shots with a handgun he legally owned. Authorities said the man, also described as having a light beard, fled on a mountain bike.

Agyemang was alone in the pharmacy at the time of the holdup around 2 p.m. Wednesday. The pharmacy is in a small strip mall about 30 miles southeast of Philadelphia.

“He could have shot me dead and nobody would have known because it’s not a busy area,” he told KYW-TV in Philadelphia.

The robber demanded OxyContin and other painkillers, the pharmacist said. Agyemang said he told the man he didn’t have those drugs.

Armed robberies at pharmacies nationwide have shot up in recent years, climbing 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, with thieves overwhelmingly taking oxycodone painkillers like OxyContin.

Most of the holdups do not result in violence.

But in April 2011, a gunman killed a pharmacist in Trenton, N.J., before stealing $10,000 in pills. Two months later on New York’s Long Island, a robber walked into a neighborhood drugstore and gunned down the pharmacist, a teenage store clerk and two customers before leaving with a backpack full of pills containing hydrocodone.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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NJ pharmacist fires on holdup man, foils robbery