By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia police are asking for the public’s help identifying a man who robbed a Rite Aid Pharmacy in West Oak Lane. It was an act of apparent desperation.

Police say the man walked into the pharmacy on Ogontz Avenue and demanded money. But it’s the heartbreaking plea made during the brazen robbery that has neighbors talking.

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“If you’re desperate, you’ll do something desperate,” shopper Peachola Lamkin said.

At 11:57 a.m. on Jan. 3, a man walked into the Rite Aid and robbed it.

At first, he walked around the store and then approached the cashier, put items on the counter and handed the cashier a note that read, in part: “Give me all the money. I’m sorry, I have a sick child. You have 15 seconds.”

The cashier went into the register and put cash in a bag, and then the man walked out.

Credit: CBS3

“Just because you have a sick child, there’s no reason to rob a store,” Lamkin said.

It’s not clear how much money the man got away with, but surveillance video shows the cashier going into the register twice.

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“I don’t know if he was armed but he put the store workers in danger. He put himself in danger because the police could’ve come in and killed him and then his kid wouldn’t have had a father,” Lamkin said.

“We certainly understand that people have needs. That’s just not the way to go about fulfilling those needs,” Philadelphia Police Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said.

Police didn’t say if the man was carrying a gun.

They describe him as 30 to 40 years old, 5-foot-10 with a mustache. The glasses he was wearing could also be an important clue to his identity. There’s a possibility that they are prescription.

For investigators, this is more than just about solving a crime, it’s about helping to make a bad situation better.

They say if the suspect turns himself in, it’s possible there’s help available for his child.

“There may be some specialized services for this individual and his family that he could be in need of, too. Unfortunately, the only way at this point he may be able to get them, is if he comes in and sees us,” Kinebrew said.

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If you have any information regarding this incident, contact the Northwest Detective Division 215-686-3354.