05/19/2014

Robber killed by NYPD cops found through tracking device

NYPD began encouraging pharmacies to use dummy pill bottles fit with tracking devices in 2013

By Anthony M. Destefano
Newsday

NEW YORK — Police in Manhattan shot and killed a suspect in the armed robbery of an Upper East Side pharmacy Friday after following him using a tracking device planted in one of the stolen pill bottles, officials said.

The suspect, Scott Kato, 45, of Mount Vernon, was shot by police about 2 p.m. after he allegedly showed a gun as his car was stopped on the service road of FDR Drive near 96th Street, according to investigators.

After following Kato more than 30 blocks through the tracking device, officers approached his vehicle after stopping northbound traffic on the FDR, said a law enforcement source who didn't want to be identified.

Tracking devices have been used by some pharmacies in the city since early 2013 when the NYPD began encouraging pharmacies to use dummy pill bottles fit with the devices in an effort to cut down on the theft of painkillers.

Though Friday's incident may be the first in which the NYPD has found a suspect with the devices, they have led to the apprehension of 111 suspects nationwide, said a spokesman for Purdu Pharma, which makes OxyContin, the brand name for oxycodone painkiller. The company declined further comment Friday.

An NYPD spokesman said it was unclear later Friday whether Kato actually brandished the handgun found at the scene and how many rounds were fired by police.

A news photograph showed at least six bullet holes in the front windshield area of the suspect's black Jeep. No officers or any other civilians, including workers at the pharmacy, were hurt.

"It appears that these cops did a terrific job in tracking down an armed robber and apprehending him," said police spokesman Stephen Davis.

Kato was believed to have been a suspect in at least four and possibly six other pharmacy robberies, according to police.

The scene of Friday's robbery was the HealthSource Pharmacy, 1302 Second Ave., near 68th Street. Officials at the store, one of a small chain of pharmacies, didn't return telephone calls and email requests for comment.

Police said Kato entered the pharmacy around 1:30 p.m., brandished a gun and began demanding painkillers. At one point he told the store staff, "I want more, I want more," as he demanded more pills, said a law enforcement source. It appeared that one or more of the pill bottles contained the tracking device, police said.

After taking the pills, Kato walked around to the pharmacy cash register and took an undetermined amount of cash, police said.

Copyright 2014 Newsday


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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