Slain ATF agent honored near Massapequa home

Maryellen Guerrero, John Capano's sister, during the dedication Maryellen Guerrero, John Capano's sister, during the dedication of a roadway triangle to honor the ATF Special Agent. (July 4, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Family, friends, neighbors, and officials honored the off-duty ATF agent killed on New Year's Eve during a botched pharmacy robbery in Seaford.

A memorial for U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Senior Special Agent John F. Capano was dedicated near his Massapequa home Wednesday morning.

"I couldn't think of a more appropriate day on the calendar, July Fourth, to do this," said Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, who called Capano a "true American hero."

"You simply could not ask for a better role model."

Capano was accidentally shot and killed when he intervened in the robbery at Charlie's Family Pharmacy.

Two ladders from the Massapequa and Seaford fire departments raised an American flag, a custom for fallen members of law enforcement and fire departments. The triangle memorial was surrounded by freshly planted flowers, a pole that held a flag once raised in Baghdad, and a plaque with Capano's name and an inscription. It read in part: "He died as he lived . . . protecting others."

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In attendance were Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), Capano's widow, Dori, and the couple's two children, John and Natalie.

Dori Capano, who has not spoken publicly since her husband was killed, thanked officials and neighbors for their support.

"It means so much to our family to have this memorial to John right here in our neighborhood," she said. "I hope in your travels as you go in and out of this neighborhood and you pass this memorial, I hope you will take a moment to think of John Capano and remember just what a good man he was."

King said John "exemplifies what public service is all about. He personified what Americanism is all about."

King's wife, Rosemary, who taught Capano at Seaford Avenue Elementary School, also was at the dedication. She fondly described Capano as "a lovable little devil."

"You could never get mad at him," she said before the ceremony. "He was such a good student."

Neighbor Vivian LaGrutta attended the ceremony along with hundreds from the community.

"John would come out for everybody and he helped everybody," she said. "He was such a wonderful guy."

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