Suffolk police raided the Medford pharmacy rampage suspect's house with stealth and overwhelming force, said witnesses at the scene.
About 10 a.m. Wednesday, Christine Baldwin, 43, was walking to her mailbox on Pitchpine Place in Medford when a car with tinted windows suddenly drove down the street at high speed. A white box truck then arrived, she said, and 20 police officers with riot shields "very quietly" emerged from the back. Police vehicles followed, clogging the street.
Their approach was so silent, said Peter Spano, who was working nearby, that it was as if they were "walking on water."
"These guys came up like an orchestra. They were unbelievable," said Spano, 52, who was raised in Sayville. "It made TV look like a joke. Really, in all honesty, I was in awe."
Officers surrounded the house, knocked down the door and swarmed in, Spano said. Minutes later, they emerged with a subdued, gaunt man, handcuffed behind his back, Spano said.
A photograph of the man, identified as David Laffer, 33, shows injuries to his face. Police said he resisted. "Oh, my God, he looked like something right before death," Spano said.
Neighbor Antoinette Giordano, 63, came out to check on the commotion and an officer told her to go back inside and lock her windows and doors. "He said, 'We think we got the guy. We just want to make sure he's the right guy,' " she said.
Laffer family friend Zaida Ayala said she often gossiped over the fence with Laffer's mother, Pam, who was not arrested. On Tuesday, the two women had speculated about the identity of the Medford pharmacy killer.
"Totally shocking," said Ayala. "These are my friends."
Many were relieved an arrest had been made. Some said it confirmed their suspicion that the neighborhood had been under recent police surveillance.
"Very happy they caught him," said Giovanni Bonilla, who lives in the area. "This is a very calm neighborhood, kids are always riding around. You have a park, a school. It's crazy."
With Olivia Winslow and Ali Eaves