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John Capano, agent slain in Seaford pharmacy, awarded Badge of Bravery

A year hasn't erased the pain of losing

A year hasn't erased the pain of losing U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Senior Special Agent John F. Capano, said his colleague and friend Eric Immesberger. Credit: Handout

Slain federal agent John F. Capano, who died attempting to stop a New Year's Eve robbery at a Seaford pharmacy two years ago, Monday was awarded the Federal Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) presented Capano's wife, Dory, and two children, John, 19, and Natalie, 16, with the award at a small ceremony at King's Massapequa Park office.

"There are certain acts of bravery that go above and beyond," King said.

Capano, 51, of Massapequa, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, died in 2011 as he tried to detain a gun-wielding man who was attempting to rob Charlie's Family Pharmacy in Seaford.

As Capano fought with the suspected robber outside the store, a retired Nassau police lieutenant mistook him for the robber and fatally shot him, according to a Nassau district attorney's office report.

"I think everyone here understands what a mixed bag of emotions this is," Dory Capano said in brief remarks delivered before family members and law enforcement officials crowded into King's office.

Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association in Washington, D.C., said fewer than a dozen of the medals have been handed out since nominations for the honor first opened two years ago.

King, a longtime friend of the Capano family, nominated the slain officer for the honor.

"It took us a microsecond to approve his nomination," Adler said of the seven-member panel composed of federal law enforcement officers. "Everyone unanimously recognized what a heroic act he did, ultimately giving his life to protect others."

This is not the first time Capano has been honored. In August the ATF bestowed him with four awards, including the agency's Medal of Honor.

In July, the Town of Hempstead renamed a street in Seaford where he grew up in his honor, and the Town of Oyster Bay erected a small monument in Massapequa that reads "He died as he lived . . . protecting others."

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