Friends and family weren't surprised that ATF agent John Capano would risk his life to intervene in an armed robbery.

"He died in the line of duty, doing what he always did," said his older brother, Jim Capano, reached by phone in Colorado.

John Capano grew up on Long Island and lived in Massapequa, friends and relatives said.

He served 23 months in Afghanistan and Iraq as a certified explosives expert and was married with two children, ATF Special Agent Joe Anarumo said.

Capano, 51, worked on illegal gun cases with Joseph Conway, a former head of the U.S. attorney's office on Long Island.

He was "a good agent; a solid, hardworking guy who showed up for work every morning . . . always looking to move the ball forward," Conway said.

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Rory O'Connor, assistant agent in charge of the New York ATF office, said Capano showed his dedication and persistence through his work.

"He was never off-duty," O'Connor said. "That was the type of agent he was. That's how he approached his work."

In Iraq and Afghanistan, he volunteered to help local authorities investigate explosions and explosive devices.

"He always wanted to be in the fight," O'Connor said.

Back on Long Island, he served as a volunteer at the Biltmore Beach Club in Biltmore Shores, Massapequa, on the south shore on South Oyster Bay, said Laura Weiss, who sits on the club board.

Weiss said he came to the club with his family. While he didn't talk about his job much, it was known at the club that he was an ATF agent, she said.

Told about the way he died, she said, "I'm sure he'd be the first one to help in a situation like that."

With Matthew Chayes