Some surveillance camera images of the Father’s Day massacre at a Medford drug store are being circulated in the hopes someone will recognize the shooter, but authorities are not releasing video showing the murder of the four victims.
Suffolk County police said the lone gunman walked into Haven Drugs on Southaven Avenue 20 minutes after the family run shop opened at 10 a.m. Sunday. The killer was caught on tape as he shot the pharmacist, his 17-year-old assistant and two customers at close range before he filled up a backpack with unspecified prescription painkillers and fled the scene, police said.
“In all my law enforcement experience and in the experience of the police that are involved in this investigation, this is one of the most heinous, brutal crimes we have ever encountered,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said during a news conference at police headquarters Monday afternoon. “We’re committed to finding the cold-blooded killer.”
The pharmacist, 45-year-old Raymond Ferguson of Centereach, was killed along with his assistant, Jennifer Mejia, of East Patchogue—whose funeral is slated for Wednesday, the day she planned to attend her Bellport High School prom. The two customers include 71-year-old Bryon Sheffield of Medford and Jamie Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville.
Taccetta’s fiancé called 911 after he walked in on the scene of the crime while looking for Jamie. The murders and robbery were over in a matter of minutes and the victims did not resist, Dormer said.
Staffers at Farmingdale-based CCTV Services, Inc., who said they installed the surveillance camera system at Haven Pharmacy at the end of 2009, turned over to police the DVD containing footage of the shooting spree.
“This…was definitely the worst crime caught on our cameras,” George Brociner, a manager with the company, said through a spokeswoman. Cameras provided by the company have captured countless robberies, shootings, muggings and vandalism over the years, he said.
Diversion Investigators with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency are on the scene to determine what specific drugs may have been stolen, according to a DEA spokeswoman. She noted that locally based DEA agents have been offering crime prevention tips to Long Island pharmacists after there was a 125-percent increase in pharmacy break ins from 2009 and 2010 across New York State.
Suspects typically include both addicts and drug dealers who know the street value of certain prescriptions, which are now the second-most abused drug in the nation after marijuana.
Dormer said there are no suspects in the investigation, which is still in its early stages, but police have received a “substantial number” of tips so far.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect responsible. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.
In the meantime, both plainclothes and uniformed patrols are being beefed up around Suffolk County pharmacies and pharmacists are being urged to report any suspicious activity around opening and closing time.
“They were good humble people,” said a friend of the Mejia family who asked not to be named while he was paying respects to the victims at a makeshift memorial of flowers and religious candles outside the pharmacy. “Why do these things always happen to good people? These were good people.”