By Rocco Parascandola
A stakeout for a robbery crew targeting Duane Reade drugstores turned into a wild, snowy morning yesterday, with three suspects arrested in the robberies and police firing at a driver who rammed his car into an officer in an unrelated incident, police said.
The officer, whose name was not released, was thrown onto the hood of the black Pontiac Grand Prix and smacked into the windshield, but escaped with relatively minor injuries.
The two men in the car — who police said had earlier been involved in a drug-related shooting on the Upper East Side — sped north on Columbus Avenue against traffic, but were caught a short time later by officers pursuing them, police said.
Less than two hours later, police said the three Duane Reade — Kyaseem Andrews, 18; William Barber, 23; and Jason Wine, 21 — were arrested after holding up a Second Avenue Duane Reade, the eighth such 24-hour pharmacy to be hit in less than two months.
Police said the ringleader, Wine, made a last-ditch effort to avoid arrest, tossing his gun in a soda refrigerator and taking off his coat to reveal a security outfit similar to the one worn by legitimate store security.
"We saw him," said Insp. James Shea, head of the Central Robbery Section. "We knew it was him."
Police had staked out each of the 47 stores in Manhattan on three other nights with no luck. Early yesterday, however, their luck changed. First, at about 2:20 a.m., officers watching a Duane Reade at Madison Avenue and East 89th Street became suspicious when they saw the Grand Prix block at least twice.
The two men in that car, it turns out, were marijuana dealers who minutes later fired at a nearby white Honda Civic, police believe. The suspects fled and caught Shea's attention.
After the car hit the officer, a fellow officer opened fire three times, and one shot cut through the driver's side door and struck the driver in the buttocks, police said. Police arrested the suspects after they ditched the car. The man who was shot was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and was in stable condition.
As those men — whose names were not immediately released — were being questioned police on the Duane Reade watch saw three men wearing ski masks and hooded jackets approach the store at Second Avenue and East 47th Street at about 3:50 a.m.
Two went in, with a third acting as a lookout, Shea said.
The lookout, however, saw a female customer exit and use her cell phone, mistakenly thinking she was calling 911.
The lookout motioned to his accomplices and they left the store with an undetermined amount of money. But before they could get to their Jeep, police chased and arrested them, Shea said.
Matthew Nestel contributed to this story.
Copyright 2007 Newsday, Inc.
N.Y. officer, suspect injured during police stake out