By Ben Fractenberg and Amy Zimmer
MANHATTAN — Police — including a retired lieutenant — shot and killed an armed drugstore robber in East Harlem Thursday morning in a wild scene that left neighbors stunned and sparked a manhunt for his missing partner-in-crime, authorities said.
Cops said that two men entered the Rx Center Pharmacy at 2325 First Ave., near East 119th Street, which was packed with terrified customers, shortly after 11 a.m. in search of the drugs Oxycontin and Percocet.
Rudolph Wyatt, 23, of East Harlem, pulled out a .32 caliber handgun, prompting a worker to pull a silent alarm alerting the NYPD, police said.
When officers arrived and confronted the two men as they left the pharmacy, Wyatt fired at the officers, according to NYPD officials. An officer fired her gun at Wyatt, and as he continued to flee, making his way toward a gas station across the street, a retired lieutenant who was at the station, fired at Wyatt.
The robbery suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. The other suspect got away in the chaos of the scene.
Police released dramatic surveillance video showing Wyatt bursting from the store, apprently firing his gun as cops scrambled to get out of the way.
His accomplice bolted in the confusion and Wyatt can be seen running into the street, apparently firing his gun behind him at the police.
The final confrontation at the gas station was obscured from view by a building.
Police also released a pair of freeze-frame images of the second suspect, who was captured on video inside the pharmacy.
Officers and victims of the robbery were taken to New York Hospital for trauma, police and FDNY officials said.
"There was a shot in the pharmacy," said Mike Martinez, 34, who lives in the area and heard the gunshot after police cars had already surrounded the building.
"The officers backed up behind their cars to take cover."
Martinez said the suspect, who was wearing a stocking around his face, fired "one or two shots" at police before making a run for it.
"The officers were firing at him. One of them hit him," he said. "His head was really bloody."
"I couldn't believe this was happening in broad daylight," Martinez added.
Another neighbor, Carolyn Green, 47, said the gunman "ran out shooting at the cops." "One of the officers shot him," he said. "People were running, trying to get away. I was in shock."
After the shooting, Martinez said he saw roughly 10 people who looked like workers and customers running out of the pharmacy with their hands up.
Officers were looking for the man's alleged accomplice, who they described as standing roughly 5-foot-11 with a medium build, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with red lining and white lettering, and gray sweatpants, cops said.
Other neighbors were also shocked by the morning violence.
"This area has improved," said witness and longtime area resident Keith Major, 52. "You haven't seen anything like this in 10 years."
The area's City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito called for more work to prevent gun violence as well as legislation to protect pharmacists, including measures in Albany to crack down on prescription drug theft and legislation proposed by the attorney general to track the dispensing of prescription drugs.
"Our community has been the victim of several pharmacy robberies in recent weeks and today, another pharmacy was the victim of a robbery and shooting," Mark-Viverito said in a statement.
"We should also recognize our police officers, including a retired officer, who stopped the robbers from killing more people, and hope the second suspect is quickly apprehended," she added.