NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An armed robbery suspect was shot and killed by police after a chase on the Upper East Side Friday afternoon, and police believe the suspect was behind a string of pharmacy robberies.
It all began with a gunpoint robbery at Health Source Pharmacy, located between 68th and 69th streets and Second Avenue, at 1:40 p.m., sources told CBS 2.
Police pursued the suspect — identified as Scott Kato, 45 — whose vehicle got stuck in traffic on the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive service road at 96th Street, sources said.
When police approached the car, Kato raised a 9mm handgun, and the officers opened fire and killed the suspect, sources said. The suspect did not fire.
As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, the sound of the gunfire shook neighbors around 96th Street just before 2 p.m.
“I just heard six shots – random shots – boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” one man said.
“I hear a hail of bullets – it sounded like the 4th of July,” another witness said.
Jim Pace saw the scene after police opened fire.
“I went over there I saw the guy slumped over in the car; in the SUV,” Pace said.
Police said Kato may have been involved in a total of five pharmacy robberies – four of them at the same Health Source Pharmacy on Second Avenue, and a fifth on First Avenue. The robberies date back to 2012, police said.
Police believe the same suspect is seen in surveillance video during a robbery of the same pharmacy on Dec. 21, 2013, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported. In that case, he flashed a gun and ordered a 27-year-old female employee to fill a bag with Oxycodone, Viagra and Cialis.
Residents said they think the pharmacy is an easy target.
“Cause it’s every couple of weeks. I guess the guy got too comfortable, it’s too easy for him or something,” a nearby pizza shop owner told 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis.
Sources told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell a GPS unit hidden inside a pill bottle led police to his location.
Last year, the NYPD announced a plan asking pharmacies to hide GPS trackers in pill bottles. Police at the scene would not confirm how they tracked the suspect.
The officers involved in the shooting were taken to the hospital for tinnitus due to the gunfire, but they were not shot or wounded.
The shooting prompted the closure of the southbound FDR from 106th and 96th Streets.
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