Remarks as prepared for delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the memorial for ATF senior special agent John Capano:
Good morning. It is an honor to be here with so many of those whose lives were touched, and enriched, by Senior Special Agent John Capano.
To John’s wife, Dori; their son, John, and daughter, Natalie; to John’s father, James; to his brothers, sisters, friends, and colleagues – thank you for allowing me to stand with you today. On behalf of a grateful nation – and America’s entire law enforcement community – it is a privilege to join you in paying tribute, as well as my last respects, to an extraordinary public servant, a key member of the federal law enforcement family, and a true patriot who was always proud to call Seaford his home.
For decades, the Capanos have been part of the fabric of this community. I know that many of you have long been grateful to count them, not only as neighbors, but as part of your own extended families. You have stood together in good times – to celebrate John’s graduation from Seaford High School, and his success as he followed in the footsteps of his father, James – Seaford’s “unofficial mayor” and a former member of the New York Police Department – to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Too often, you have stood together in times of sorrow. Just a few short weeks ago, many of you gathered – in this very church – to say goodbye to John’s mother, Helen, when she lost her battle with cancer. Today, it is especially moving – and inspiring – to see how this community has rallied around the Capano family once again, in this moment of unspeakable tragedy, as we mourn the sudden and untimely loss of one of Seaford’s favorite sons.
Like his father, John Capano dedicated his life to serving others and ensuring the safety and security of his country, his community, and his fellow citizens. He pursued his passion for criminal justice by becoming an investigator under the New York State Attorney General, and later joining the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – where, for more than two decades, he was a key leader and an invaluable member of the ATF team.
Even in the company of some of the most elite law enforcement professionals in the nation, Senior Special Agent Capano stood out. He won major decorations for his investigative work, his service overseas – on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan – and his patriotic spirit. He shared his tremendous knowledge and expertise in countless training sessions – not only with his fellow ATF agents, but with state and local officials here in New York, as well as law enforcement officers across the country and even around the world.
But it wasn’t just the badge he wore that made John Capano a hero, or even the actions he took in his final moments – when John stepped up, as he had so many times before, to protect the community and the people he loved.
It wasn’t just the way he died that makes him an example to all of us – it was the way he lived. It was his willingness to place the safety of others above his own. It was his eagerness to serve those around him, and to fight every day to make this nation safer and more secure.
And it was the devotion he showed to his family, and the love with which he and Dori raised their two children – within whom his spirit, and his living legacy, will always reside.
Of course, I recognize that there is nothing anyone can say – or do – to ease the pain of John’s sudden passing, or to give his grieving family the peace that you seek. But I can promise you that John’s sacrifice will be honored by an ATF and a Department of Justice that has been strengthened by his example and his enduring contributions. And I assure you that every member of America’s law enforcement community stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the residents of Seaford, as we mourn one of our own – and bid farewell to one of our best.
In ways both large and small, John Capano will be dearly missed. And, although we take him to his rest this morning – here, in the community he was so proud to call home – I believe we can take solace in the fact that his work goes on. His commitment – to protecting the most vulnerable among us, and to ensuring justice for all people – will guide us forward. And his dream – of improving the lives of others – will continue to inspire acts of service, of selflessness, and of extraordinary courage.
Once again, I want to thank you for allowing me to share in this moment. It’s now my privilege to introduce Todd Jones, the Acting Director of the ATF.