Monday, January 2, 2012
ATF Agent May Have Died in 'Friendly Fire'
Authorities are investigating whether friendly fire killed a hero ATF agent trying to stop a drug-addled ex-con from robbing a Long Island pharmacy.
Officials said off-duty Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent John Capano, 51, a married father of two teens, was trying to foil a stickup at a Long Island pharmacy Saturday when a retired Nassau County police lieutenant and off-duty NYPD cop in a nearby deli heard there was a robbery in progress and the two armed men ran over.
Within seconds, Capano and career criminal James McGoey, 43, lay dead outside the drugstore amid bottles of stolen pills.
The fatal chain of events occurred after McGoey entered the pharmacy with a handgun in his waistband at 1:54pm and demanded drugs and cash, according to authorities.
"He demanded they give him all the Opana [a narcotic painkiller] they had, as well as the cash in the cash register," a law enforcement source said.
Around the same time, the unsuspecting Capano was entering the store from the back, leaving his wife and son in the car to wait as he picked up his elderly father's cancer medication.
"I said, 'I'm going down to get a prescription.' He said, 'Well, I'm going down to Charlie's, so I'll get it,' " recalled Capano's heartbroken dad, James J. Capano.
"I should have gone," said the former NYPD detective, who suffers from prostate cancer and had just lost his wife, John's mother, to cancer on Dec. 17.
Once the 23-year ATF veteran saw McGoey holding up the store, he instinctively drew his weapon, a law-enforcement source said.
"He reached for his sidearm and engaged Mr. McGoey," the source said, adding that the perp then moved toward the front door, his gun drawn and his pockets stuffed with cash and drugs.
At the same time, two women who had witnessed the robbery ran to the deli, which is owned by the family of retired Nassau County police Lt. Chris Garaghty, 54.
Garaghty rushed to the scene with Joseph Abria, a 29-year-old off-duty NYPD cop who was also at the deli.
It was unclear how many shots were fired and whose bullet killed Capano during the ensuing mayhem just outside the drugstore's front door.
Sources indicated that McGoey was wielding only a realistic-looking pellet gun.
Neither Abria nor Garaghty have spoken to investigators yet, sources said.
James Capano said his son -- an explosives expert who had volunteered to train US and allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan -- never backed away from trouble.
Greg Rosati, 52, a friend of the victim's from high school, noted the irony of his pal's death.
"He was in Afghanistan, in Iraq, defusing bombs. Then he comes home, gets his father's prescription and gets killed." Rosati said, adding, "He was a man's man. A hero.