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Capano family struggles with sudden loss

James Capano, the father of slain federal agent

James Capano, the father of slain federal agent John Capano, talks Sunday with reporters outside Charlie's Family Pharmacy on Merrick Road in Seaford. (Jan. 1, 2012) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

James Capano stood alone with his thoughts in front of Charlie's Family Pharmacy in Seaford shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday, where little more than 18 hours earlier his son was shot dead.

The elder Capano's good friend Rep. Peter King approached as the bereft father struggled with the loss of his son, John, 51, an off-duty federal agent killed in Saturday's pharmacy robbery.

"You can see the anguish in his face," King (R-Seaford) later said of Capano, known as "Jimmy" to friends.

King and his wife, Rosemary, were on their way to visit Capano, 82, who lives just a five-minute walk from the pharmacy. King decided to stop by the crime scene first "to get my bearings."

"As I rounded the alleyway, there's Jimmy standing out front in a leather jacket, hand in pocket, just staring at the pharmacy," King said.

King, 67, who calls the elder Capano "the Mayor of Merrick Road," visited him Saturday night after the shooting, but wanted to check in on his friend, who suffers from heart trouble, again. Outside the pharmacy they hugged briefly and Capano, who King said was a former New York City detective, told his friend: "Thanks for being here . . . It's tough."

The pair then walked off for a private moment together.

Speaking later, James Capano said his son, an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was "an excellent person -- the best."

"He was going to pick up my medication and that was that," he said.

The Capano family was reeling from the latest tragedy to beset them. James Capano's wife, Helen, died Dec. 16 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer, King said. Of his dual losses, Capano said: "You just keep going."

John and Helen Capano had six children including John.

Daria Lyons, 50, of West Islip, whose sister is married to one of the Capano children, said: "The family's getting over the death of their mother, and now this."

The Rev. Robert Hayden of St. William the Abbot Roman Catholic Church in Seaford, where James and Helen were active, said Sunday he was with the Capano family at the hospital after Saturday's shooting and was surprised by how well they were doing, given their shocking loss.

"They were very strong," he said. "They were hanging in there much more so than you might have expected. They were supporting each other. They were heartbroken, but being strong for one another."

The family's eldest, James Capano, 55, of Colorado, said Sunday the family "is distraught and we'd like everyone to respect our privacy during this time of mourning."

He plans to fly to Long Island for his brother's funeral when arrangements are made. "My brother did what anyone else would do in the same situation," James Capano said.

With Matthew Chayes, Emily C. Dooley, Bart Jones, Keith Herbert and Delthia Ricks

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