The ex-cop was filling his car at a BP gas station across First Ave. from the RX Center when two bandits burst through its front door toting stolen painkillers and cash, police said.
The crooks were met by three officers responding to a silent alarm tripped inside the pharmacy, with one of the two suspects surrendering immediately.
The second exited with both hands on a .32 caliber revolver, trying to shoot at one officer from point-blank range as he sprinted away. His weapon misfired, and none of the responding cops were injured.
The retired lieutenant moved from the gas pumps to a spot behind a car parked on First Ave., and opened fire as the gun-toting suspect ran toward him.
The suspect, struck in the head, collapsed into a pool of his own blood.
“I thought it was firecrackers at first,” said eyewitness Stephanie Spires, 42. “I turn around, I’m like, ‘Wow, what are all these cops doing out there?’
“They’re shooting, he’s shooting ... Me and the manager of the gas station walked out, and I seen the guy laying right there on the ground.”
Cops said the unidentified suspect was wanted in connection with a pair of earlier shootings: One in East Harlem, and a second in Georgia.
The suspect who surrendered managed to escape in the aftermath of the fatal shooting, and was the target of a police manhunt.
The suspects’ botched escape try was captured by an NYPD security camera at a nearby housing project.
The robbers demanded cash and 30 milligram pills of Oxycontin and Percocet before trying to make their failed escape, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
There have recently been three similar drug store robberies in the area, police said.
The fleeing suspect was described as a Hispanic male wearing a blue sweatshirt with white stripes and red sleeves.