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Man killed by police in New York City pharmacy robbery video >>

April 13, 2012

"He told everyone to lie on the floor," Pharmacist Frank Wong told The Associated Press. "Everyone was panicking. We never saw things like this before."

It happened on Thursday, April 12, after two men, one brandishing a gun had entered a New York City pharmacy on First Avenue at East 119th Street,  and demanded Oxycontin and Percocet, two addictive painkillers.    Six customers, including an infant, and three employees inside the store, were ordered to lie behind the the counter while Wong began gathering the drugs.

Minutes later, one of the attackers was dead, fatally shot, by two bullets from a police revolver.  The attack and its aftermath are shown in this police surveillance video released to the public.

Video via NBC New York:

Three patrol officers, already outside the pharmacy after a separate 911 call are seen in a surveillance video with guns drawn, telling the suspects to come out with their hands up. One man, dressed in grey sweats and a black sweat shirt, came out and was grabbed by an officer, but Wyatt came out with his gun drawn.

Wong told a Wall Street Journal reporter that this was the first time the pharmacy had been held up in 25 years but he'd been aware of a rash of other drug store robberies around the area, including one just a few days ago in the same neighborhood. "It's gotten so crazy," he said.

A brutal string of pharmacy attacks in the New York area included one in Medford, Long Island last Father's Day, that claimed four lives.  Nationally, according to the New York Times, pharmacy robberies skyrocketed by 79% in 2011.  Many have involved addicts desperate to steal so-called "super pain-killers" like Oxycodone and Oxycontin.

Applied DNA Sciences is working with pharmacists on Long Island to show how its smartDNA anti-intruder spray can be one tool in the effort to defend against the  rising tide of similar attacks.   The spray unit is mounted at exits in a pharmacy, spraying a fleeing criminal with a solution mixing water with an indentifying mark derived from plant DNA.  The system is seen as a law enforcement technology which can powerfully help to deter crime.

At a press conference in February, New York State Senator Kemp Hannon said of the system:  “This new state-of-the-art technology will provide yet another tool to aid in the prevention of crimes, and will assist law enforcement in the apprehension and convictions of those who perpetrate them,” Senator Hannon said. “You can track the person who is robbing. So it improves security, and is almost invisible.”

Senator Hannon is working on a broad initiative attacking the roots of the sharp increase in pharmacy crime, including better awareness of security best practices among pharmacies, treating the problem of addiction, and on other fronts.  At Applied DNA Sciences, a company with strong roots in our Long Island community, we support all-round efforts to stem the problem such as this, and hope we can contribute to a solution.