A New Jersey pharmacist pulled out a handgun and fired several shots at a would-be robber as he chased him from his store, authorities said. Police said it did not appear any shots hit the fleeing holdup man, who had demanded narcotic painkillers.
“I’m no hero, but I thought, ‘Either him or I,’” John Agyemang, who opened Jolin’s Pharmacy in the southern New Jersey town of Winslow about three months ago, told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.
In a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, a day after the gunfire, the pharmacist said he had spotted a gun on the robber, who was shown in surveillance video wearing a blue dress, long wig and black sneakers.
Surveillance footage showed the stocky man pacing nervously in front of Agyemang’s counter, the pharmacist sticking out his hand as if he were trying to hold him off, then retreating backward into an office a few steps away before disappearing from view.
No weapons or shooting were shown in the footage, which was released by the Camden County prosecutor’s office in hopes the public would identify the suspect.
The pharmacist told investigators that he believed he saw the butt of a gun in the would-be robber’s fanny pack.
The prosecutor’s office said that the pharmacist fired several shots with a handgun he legally owned. Authorities said the man, also described as having a light beard, fled on a mountain bike.
Agyemang was alone in the pharmacy at the time of the holdup around 2 p.m. Wednesday. The pharmacy is in a small strip mall about 30 miles southeast of Philadelphia.
“He could have shot me dead and nobody would have known because it’s not a busy area,” he told KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
The robber demanded OxyContin and other painkillers, the pharmacist said. Agyemang said he told the man he didn’t have those drugs.
Armed robberies at pharmacies nationwide have shot up in recent years, climbing 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, with thieves overwhelmingly taking oxycodone painkillers like OxyContin.
Most of the holdups do not result in violence.
But in April 2011, a gunman killed a pharmacist in Trenton, N.J., before stealing $10,000 in pills. Two months later in New York’s Long Island, a robber walked into a neighborhood drugstore and gunned down the pharmacist, a teenage store clerk and two customers before leaving with a backpack full of pills containing hydrocodone.