Two days after a deadly pharmacy robbery occurred in East Harlem, Sen. Charles Schumer said Saturday that criminals who rob pharmacies should face much tougher punishments.
Schumer pushed legislators to vote for the proposed Safe Doses Act, federal legislation which would toughen penalties for people who rob pharmacies. The bill would also create a new crime category for the theft of medical products.
“We need to make the message loud and clear — if you rob a pharmacy, you will be caught and you will be punished severely,” Schumer said. “As we have seen time and time again with drug store robberies, these criminals are violent, repeat offenders, and we need to keep them off the streets for as long as possible."
Schumer, who represents New York in the U.S. Senate, made his remarks two days after police killed a man who tried to rob a pharmacy in East Harlem on Thursday.
That robbery was just the latest in an alarming string of violent thefts at drug stores in the past year, including one last year in Long Island where two pharmacy employees and two shoppers were shot and killed. In that crime, David Laffer was sentenced to consecutive life sentences in prison.
Earlier in 2011, another Long Island pharmacy was robbed, and that time, an off-duty federal agent was killed while trying to prevent the theft. The man robbing the pharmacy had robbed at least three drug stores between 1990 and 2000, Schumer said.
In Thursday’s shooting, the suspect was linked to four other pharmacy robberies in East Harlem, as well as a shooting in Georgia.
The legislation awaits a full vote in the U.S. Senate.
Suspect still on the loose
Police killed the man accused of holding up a pharmacy in Harlem on Thursday, but his alleged accomplice still remains at large, said police.
After he came out of the First Avenue pharmacy, Rx Center, firing at cops, Rudolph Wyatt, 23, was killed by police, including a retired officer who just happened to be across the street at a gas station.
A second suspect also came out of the store, but held his hands up as if to surrender, said police. He ran off during the wild shootout. He is described as a Hispanic or light-skinned black man in his mid-20s.
Follow New York local reporter Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.