A Bellmore pharmacist who armed himself after two fatal, high-profile drugstore robberies on Long Island fired a shot when a robber turned and brandished a knife as he made his getaway Friday afternoon, Nassau County police said.
Police later arrested Marc Gumpert, 43, of 725 Miller Ave., Freeport, in Freeport and charged him with first-degree robbery of Precision Pharmacy. No one was injured.
Pharmacy owner Richard Longo said that at about 3:30 p.m. a robber said that he had a knife and demanded drugs, and the pharmacist gave him about $1,000 worth of "prescription narcotics."
The robber fled, and the pharmacist followed, firing one shot from his licensed handgun that hit the pavement and then a tire of the robber's car, police said.
Barber Mike Aylavov was smoking a cigarette outside Celebrity Cuts a few shops away when he heard the shot. "It was really, really loud," he said.
The pharmacist purchased the gun for protection after the fatal 2011 drugstore robberies in Medford and Seaford, Longo said.
"We just want to get the word out how dangerous it is to be a pharmacist, particularly in a small pharmacy," said Longo, who also owns pharmacies in Brooklyn, the Rockaways and Great Neck. Longo did not identify the pharmacist. Gumpert demanded and took a quantity of Ritalin and Dilaudid, which was later recovered, police said.
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 prescription pain pill abuse.
Some pharmacies have hired retired cops, cut back store hours and even refused to fill prescriptions for painkillers.
In the Medford robbery, David Laffer shot four people to death in Haven Drugs on Father's Day two years ago while stealing pain pills and muscle relaxants. Laffer killed pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, 45; drugstore employee Jennifer Mejia, 17; and customers Jaime Taccetta, 33, and Bryon Sheffield, 71.
On Dec. 31, 2011, U.S. 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.