Nassau County police respond to the scene of a shooting...

Nassau County police respond to the scene of a shooting Saturday at Charlie's Family Pharmacy, 3931 Merrick Rd., in Seaford. (Dec. 31, 2011) Credit: Nick Stein

A suspected robber and a federal agent were fatally shot Saturday afternoon when a Seaford pharmacy holdup was interrupted by an off-duty New York City police officer and retired Nassau County police lieutenant.

The NYPD officer struggled with the armed man who had just robbed Charlie's Family Pharmacy on Merrick Road, and shot him near the store's front door, according to sources close to the investigation. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Within seconds, off-duty Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Capano, 51, of Massapequa -- who had been in the pharmacy -- was also shot.

He died a short time later at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Police said ballistics investigations will determine which gun fired the shot that killed Capano.

Nassau County police are investigating the number of rounds fired and from what weapons, said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, spokesman for the department.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Joe Anarumo called Capano a "hero" who leaves a wife and two children.

A certified explosives expert, Capano volunteered and served 23 months in Afghanistan and Iraq, Anarumo said.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday, an armed man police described as being about 40 entered the drugstore near the Jackson Avenue intersection and tried to flee with the prescription painkiller oxycodone and cash.

A customer in the pharmacy left the store and ran into a nearby deli, announcing that the drugstore was being robbed and urged people to call 911, the sources said.

The off-duty NYPD officer and a retired Nassau County police lieutenant were inside the deli, the law enforcement official said.

The two went to the pharmacy where the NYPD officer met the suspect at the store's doorway at 3931 Merrick Rd.

The two struggled and the officer shot the suspect, whose body crumpled to the sidewalk outside the store, surrounded by bottles of drugs.

Investigators did not identify the robbery suspect or the two law enforcement officers.

Capano, who ATF officials said was in the pharmacy, was standing behind the suspect when he was shot.

"Tragically, prescription drug abuse has taken the lives of a young man and law enforcement official," Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said.

"My heart and prayers go out to those who lost their lives today."

John Byrne, spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, said the prosecutor's office is working with the Nassau County police.

The New Year's Eve violence mirrors the June 19 Medford pharmacy robbery in which David Laffer shot and killed four people.

With Aisha al-Muslim,

Robert Brodsky, Matthew Chayes, Robert E. Kessler, Kery Murakami and Ted Phillips

Latest videos


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months