Federal Agent Was Killed By Friendly Fire During L.I. Pharmacy Robbery

Police now believe the bullet that killed off-duty federal agent John Capano, 51, was fired from an off-duty NYPD officer's gun, according to reports.

According to authorities, Capano -- an off-duty Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent --was in Charlie's Pharmacy picking up a cancer prescription for his father, when he got into a struggle with an armed James McGoey, 43, after the ex-con held up the store and was fleeing with OxyContin pills and cash.

Meanwhile, a customer inside the drug store managed to escape and ran next door to the deli, alerting an off-duty New York City cop and a retired Nassau County Police Lieutenant about what was happening.

Then, investigators say the pair ran into McGoey and Capano struggling in the doorway; shots were fired killing McGoey and Capano. Both men were in plainclothes and the off-duty police officers may have believed mistaken Capano for the robber. McGoey was armed only with a Crosman Model 1008 Pellet Gun, according to the Nassau County Police Department.

Michael Diaz was riding his bike when the chaos erupted. "It looked like no one knew what was going on." he said.

This is the second time in recent history that an off-duty officer on Long Island intervened in an ongoing situation, resulting in the death of another officer.

About a mile away in Massapequa Park last March, Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf was shot dead in a friendly fire incident. Police had already shot and killed an armed suspect inside a house on a block that was also home to retired ESU sergeant John Cafarella, 58. Responding minutes later, with the other officers still inside the home, Breitkopf arrived in plainclothes, carrying a rifle that he pointed at the ground.

In what would prove a fatal lack of communication, two armed MTA officers arrived at the same time, and, according to reports, Cafarella ran out of his house after hearing the crime on a scanner, and yelled 'gun' upon seeing Breitkopf. The two MTA officers then fatally opened fire on the Nassau County veteran officer.

While detectives piece together what happened in the latest friendly-fire incident in Seaford, friends and family got together at Capano's Massapequa home.

An ATF official described him as a "hero." Capano was a certified explosives expert, who volunteered, served and survived 23 months in Afghanistan and Iraq; he's leaves behind his wife and two children.

"Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic, it's worse then heroin" said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.

Then in June, David Laffer shot and killed four people inside Haven Drugs in Medford as he robbed the pharmacy of prescription pain killers.

One thing became clear to people walking past Charlie's Pharmacy in Seaford Sunday afternoon: prescription drug abuse is claiming too many lives and there needs to be tighter regulation.

"It's not just drug users, innocent people are getting killed," said Patricia Panquarello.

Mangano said certain chemicals have been added to powerful prescription drugs like OxyContin to make them less appealing. In addition, he said the county is sending out mailings to pharmacies with information on how to protect their businesses and customers from violence and abuse.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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