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CLEVELAND — It was a crime as despicable as it was bold.

At first it appeared Cedric Parker, 23, had pulled off the perfect heist after robbing the Family Dollar on Payne Avenue in Cleveland on June 26, 2011.

It turns out he only had a few months to celebrate.

“It’s one of the more cowardly acts I’ve ever seen,” said Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brian Radigan, who just put Parker behind bars for 24 years.

Parker used an 80-year-old woman as a shield during a gunfight with police while trying to escape after committing the robbery.

The crime began when Parker, who was wearing a mask, pointed a gun at a clerk and demanded money from the store safe.

It was at that same time Cleveland Police pulled in and interrupted the crime.

Parker and a 16-year-old cousin ran out a back door and found themselves trapped behind a dumpster.

Surveillance video shows him opening fire on two officers, then running back inside the store to grab the elderly woman.

He dragged her behind the dumpster, just outside the door, while firing over her shoulder as he held her to his body.

“This was not one shot, this was not a threat, this was something you see out of the movies,” said Radigan. “I mean, he’s lucky he wasn’t charged with capital murder and that two police officers weren’t dead or even the other bystanders that were in the area.”

Parker ran back inside the Family Dollar, demanded a clerk give him the shirt off his back, and walked out the front door pretending to be an employee.

Radigan told Fox 8 that police allowed him to leave but were able to identify him as a result of the cousin’s confession and a DNA match from the scene.

Parker was arrested three months later.

The elderly woman, who asked not to be identified, told Fox 8’s Kevin Freeman she can no longer sleep at night and still sees the image of a gun being held to her head.

Ten years of Parker’s sentence is mandatory because he used a gun while committing the crime and because he fired on police.

His 16-year-old cousin pleaded guilty and was sentenced to juvenile life, which means he will be released from detention at the age of 21.