Prosecutor: Drugstore thief threatened pharmacist
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The man who robbed a Bellmore drugstore of prescription pills Friday brandished a knife and threatened to kill a pharmacist armed with a handgun who was giving chase, according to police and court papers.
The alleged robber, Marc Gumpert, 43, of Freeport, was captured by Nassau police a short time later.
"He shot at me, man," Gumpert said of the pursuing pharmacist, according to court papers filed Saturday.
According to the documents, Gumpert told police he's a pain pill addict and admitted to the robbery, saying, "I took the drugs."
He was arraigned on charges of first-degree robbery and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon at First District Court in Hempstead. Judge Joy Watson ordered Gumpert, who said he works in the insurance business, held on $250,000 bail.
Prosecutors said Gumpert entered Precision Pharmacy on Merrick Road about 3:30 p.m. Friday, told the pharmacist he had a gun and demanded prescription pills.
The pharmacist activated a silent alarm, loaded a bag with Ritalin and Dilaudid -- an attention-deficit drug and narcotic pain reliever, respectively -- and handed it to the suspect, who fled.
When the pharmacist followed outside, Gumpert brandished a knife and threatened to kill him, prosecutors said.
Taking aim at the getaway car, the pharmacist fired one shot from his licensed handgun that hit the pavement and ricocheted, striking the vehicle, police said. According to court papers, the car is owned by the suspect's mother.
After his arrest, Gumpert told officers he "put the drugs in a duffel bag in a blue garbage pail," and promised to lead them to it, according to court papers.
Gumpert also told police that another man with a gun "forced me to rob the place," according to the documents. "Someone else was with me. I came outside and the guy wasn't in the car."
Police did not release any details about a potential second suspect.
According to police, Gumpert also pleaded with them for a dose of Suboxone -- used to treat opioid dependence -- which he said was on the front seat of the getaway car. "I need my medication," he said.
Precision Pharmacy owner Richard Longo said Friday that the pharmacist who fired at the robber had purchased the gun for protection after fatal 2011 drugstore robberies in Medford and Seaford.
Longo and police have not identified the pharmacist involved in the robbery.
In the Medford robbery, David Laffer shot four people to death in Haven Drugs on Father's Day while stealing pain pills and muscle relaxants.
On Dec. 31, 2011, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Senior Special Agent John F. Capano, 51, of Massapequa, was shot in a friendly fire incident as he struggled with a robber outside Charlie's Family Pharmacy in Seaford.
Pharmacists across Long Island have raced to protect themselves by installing bulletproof glass, security cameras and panic buttons -- as well as seeking gun permits -- because of violence linked to pain pill abuse.
Those precautions, along with new laws that require close monitoring of prescriptions, have diminished the supply of prescription pills to addicts on Long island, said Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
But less availability has not dampened demand for the powerful drugs, Reynolds said, and access to treatment has not increased.
"You've ratcheted down the supply, while the demand continues to rage out of control," Reynolds said.