NY Pharmacy Robbery Leaves Suspect, ATF Agent Dead in Confused Shootout

The pharmacy was held up by a man seeking prescription painkillers.

January 1, 2012, 11:01 AM

Jan. 1, 2012— -- New York authorities have yet to sort out who shot whom in an apparent pharmacy robbery gone bad, leaving two men dead on Long Island Saturday.

An off-duty Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, who happened to be in the store, and the alleged robber were both shot to death.

Authorities say around 2 p.m., a man entered Seaford's Charles Family Pharmacy and announced a holdup, demanding oxycontin and money. Workers gave him what he wanted, and as he tried to leave, three people confronted him: the ATF agent, an off-duty city police officer and a retired police officer, officials said.

The timeline then becomes murky; it isn't clear what happened next or who shot either man. Initial accounts stated that the ATF agent shot the suspect, and was then shot and killed by an off-duty officer.

The robber died on the sidewalk outside the store, and the other three people were taken to the hospital to be treated for trauma.

"Both guys on the floor. Blood all over the place and apparently one guy was dead and drugs were laying all over the floor," eyewitness Matthew Hipp told ABC-affiliate WACB-TV.

The ATF agent who was killed was 51-year-old John Capano, a 23-year veteran of the agency and trained explosives expert who taught U.S. military and local forces in Afghanistan and Iraq who to investigate blasts, Rory O'Connor, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF's New York office, told the Associated Press.

"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 protest the public."

Capano lived in Massapequa and was married with two children.

Authorities are still investigating the incident, trying to determine an exact timeline of events. It's unclear whether the suspected robber ever pulled the gun from his waistband during the confrontation or who fired the shot that killed Capano.

Armed robberies at pharmacies in the U.S. rose 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Earlier this year, four people were killed by a drug addict during a pharmacy robbery just 30 miles from Saturday's shooting.

The area has been struggling with a growing tide of prescription drug abuse, Razov Felice, owner of a neighborhood restaurant, told the AP.

"There is a lot of problems in Long Island with these drugs," he said. "I don't know what people are thinking. The more people talk about these drugs, the more people are trying them."

WABC-TV and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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