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Manhunt Continues for Suspect in Fatal East Harlem Pharmacy Robbery

By Wil Cruz | April 13, 2012 4:44pm

By Trevor Kapp and Wil Cruz

DNAinfo Staff

EAST HARLEM — The manhunt for the second suspect in the wild shootout at a First Avenue pharmacy intensified Friday, as cops continued poring over surveillance video and exhausting all leads to track down the man.

The gun battle Thursday morning at Rx Center Pharmacy at 2325 First Avenue, near East 119th Street, left Rudolph Wyatt, an armed gunman, dead, and a neighborhood in shock. Wyatt and the unidentified second robber who's still at large hit the drug store in search of money and drugs, police said. 

"It was crazy," said Alex Catu, the drug store's manager. "The guy just came barging in and told us to lie down, then asked for the Percocet and Oxycontin and other narcotic drugs.

"He was pointing the gun right away," he added. "I showed him the money, and when I had a chance to press the panic button, I pressed it."

When cops arrived, Wyatt, 23, of East Harlem, opened fire on them with a .32-caliber handgun, police said. He was later shot dead by a retired police lieutenant as he fled the pharmacy.

Wyatt had been wanted for an April 2011 shooting in Sandy Springs, Ga., in which he allegedly shot a 19-year-old man in the back six times. He had been on the run ever since, according to the Sandy Springs Police Department.

He violated his parole in New York the next month, the NYPD said. He has a 2008 arrest for drugs and a 2010 arrest for a non-fatal shooting in East Harlem, sources said.

His family on Friday said Wyatt got into trouble, but didn't deserve to die.

"Everybody goes through their ups and downs, but at the end of the day, nobody deserves to die," said April Ruiz, 32, Wyatt's aunt.

Wyatt's cohort, meanwhile, ran off and was still on the lam Friday, police said.

Cops describe him as standing 5-foot-11 with a medium build, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with red lining and white lettering, and gray sweatpants.

City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents the neighborhood, said Friday that East Harlem pharmacies have been targeted more often recently.

Neighbors on Friday feared the pattern could lead to more open violence in neighborhood pharmacies — and could one day leave innocent bystanders hurt.

"It's concerning. I have a small kid," said Dan Amaez, 32, referring to his 4-year-old son. "We use that pharmacy regularly, so it's very scary.

"You're always concerned with the summer coming up," he added, "and the kids out of school."