Mourners visit Medford pharmacy memorial
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The Medford pharmacy where four people were shot to death on Father's Day remains closed but a steady stream of mourners bringing flowers, candles or just a prayer showed few signs of slowing Sunday.
"It tells you a lot about this community," said Charlie Chierchio, a Medford resident who placed flowers in a growing pile at the foot of Haven Drugs on Southaven Avenue. "There's always somebody here."
Like many contributors to the memorial, Chierchio didn't know the four victims killed just after 10 a.m. on June 19: Ray Ferguson, 45, a pharmacist working an extra shift; Jennifer Mejia, 17, a part-time employee set to graduate high school; Jaime Taccetta, 33, a customer engaged to be married; and Bryon Sheffield, 71, a retiree picking up his wife's heart medication.
"It still hurts," Pat Taccetta said Sunday after stopping by the memorial after coming from the cemetery where her daughter was buried Saturday. "It's just so senseless."
Investigators say David Laffer, 33, executed the four people with a .45-caliber handgun, then stole more than 10,000 hydrocodone pills. He and his wife, Melinda Brady -- suspected of driving the getaway vehicle -- were arrested Wednesday after a tip and a fingerprint match.
The Medford couple, who lived 2 miles away, were described by law enforcement sources as addicted to prescription painkillers, and desperate to get them following the loss of Laffer's job a few weeks ago.
In the aftermath, the crime is bringing renewed calls for legislation limiting access to controlled substances. Howard Levine, who runs Belmont Drugs in West Babylon, said increased police patrols were good, but that the rising number of drugstore robberies was merely a symptom.
"Everyone is trying to put a Band-Aid on a bleeding wound," he said. "If you can stop the drug from being prescribed, you can definitely stop the increase in addiction."
But Sunday, at least at Haven Drugs, discussion of the larger societal issues took a backseat to quiet displays of grief. Mejia's family also stopped by to light candles, accepting hugs from strangers.
And Central Islip pastor Glenn Diener, who organized a candlelight vigil last week, pushed for removal of a handwritten sign posted on the pharmacy's front door that wished graphic violence on the suspects. After visitors agreed, the sign came down.
"This is a place of mourning," he said, "not hatred."