Off-duty ATF agent slain getting dad's cancer meds

Inset photo shows Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent John Capano, who died while trying to subdue a suspect in a pharmacy robbery in Seaford, N.Y., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011.
AP Photos/Department of Justice; Paul Mazza

NEW YORK — An off-duty federal law enforcement agent who died while confronting a pharmacy robber was picking up his elderly father's cancer medication, a New York congressman said Sunday.

CBS Station WCBS reports veteran Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Capano died after being taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound, Nassau County police Lt. Kevin Smith said.

Capano had chased down the suspect inside the store and was trying to subdue him on the ground when he died, said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. The heist suspect, who had taken money and painkillers from the store before he was also shot to death, was identified Sunday by police as 43-year-old James McGoey of Hampton Bays.

"John was with him on the ground wrestling," said King, who has spoken with local authorities and Capano's family. "Next thing you know, shots are fired."

Capano, 51, was a 23-year veteran of the ATF who lived in Massapequa and was married with two children. Rory O'Connor, assistant special agent in charge in the ATF's New York office, said Capano was a customer at the pharmacy when he chose to intervene in the robbery and apprehend the suspect.

O'Connor described Capano as a "very dedicated, aggressive agent" who, as a trained explosives expert, taught U.S. military and local forces in Afghanistan and Iraq how to do blast investigations."

He was a veteran agent who did his job well," O'Connor said. "Even though off-duty, he felt the need to take action in an attempt to protect the public from a known robber."

James Capano, 82, told WCBS correspondent Derricke Dennis that his son was going to get him medicine.

"Yeah, I was going to go down, but he said 'I'm, going down so I'll get it'," he said.

"He was good, he was very good at what he did. He was always helping somebody. Never walked away from anything," Capano added.

McGoey had gone into Charlie's Family Pharmacy in Seaford, a small shorefront Long Island town, at about 2 p.m. on New Year's Eve, police said. He announced a holdup and was given what he came for: painkillers and money.

Capano confronted McGoey as he tried to leave the store. Meanwhile, an off-duty NYPD officer and a retired Nassau County police officer who happened to be at a deli next door were alerted that someone was trying to rob the pharmacy, King said.

"This is a horrible confluence of events," King said. "They both hear this guy saying there's a robbery going on. They get their guns, they go next door."

It's not clear who shot either man.