A suspect in a Seaford pharmacy robbery and an off-duty federal agent who tried to stop him were killed in a struggle Saturday afternoon, although the circumstances surrounding the shooting were unclear, authorities said.
Detective Lt. Kevin Smith, the department’s chief spokesperson, said that James McGoey of Hampton Bays walked into Charlie’s Family Pharmacy on Merrick Road around 2 p.m. and “he announces a stick up.” The 43-year-old robbed the store of cash and Oxycontin, a powerful prescription painkiller, Smith said.
When he fled the pharmacy near the corner of Jackson Avenue, off-duty Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent John Capano, along with an off-duty NYPD officer and a retired Nassau police officer confronted the suspect, Smith told reporters at the scene, according to the Associated Press.
A “struggle ensued” and McGoey was shot and killed by one of the men, police said. Capano was also shot and was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where he later died, Smith said.
Multiple area news outlets cited anonymous sources offering varying accounts how the shooting unfolded. Newsday reported that the ATF agent was shot by one of the other officers. The New York Times reported the agent may have been shot by the suspect. And The Wall Street Journal reported someone said the gun the suspect was believed to be carrying may have been fake.
Rep. Peter King told the Associated Press that Capano was picking up his elderly father’s cancer medication, and that his mother had died of breast cancer two weeks ago.
As a result of the shooting, Merrick Road was closed for hours between Jackson Avenue and Washington Avenue. Yellow police tape surrounded the pharmacy and the sidewalk has been cordoned off with a white plastic make-shift wall. A large pole was erected to shine light on the crime scene as night fell.
Ryan Lacertosa, 24, of Seaford, was driving west on Merrick Road at the time of the shooting when he said he heard gun shots go off.
“I heard the shots and I stopped,” he told the Press. “I saw the guy who got shot lying on the ground, his arms were crossed.”
Lacertosa described the man on the ground as a “bigger guy,” adding that “it looked like he was on his last breath.”
“The next thing I know they had a bag over the body,” he said.
A store owner, who didn’t want to be named, told the Press that he heard “three shots” go off and decided to “lock the doors” to his shop that sits on the same block as the pharmacy. He also saw a body on the ground after the shooting.
This is the second fatal shooting that occurred this year during a robbery at a local drug store. On Father’s day, David Laffer walked into Haven Drugs in Medford and shot and killed four people before walking out with thousands of hydrocodone-type prescription painkillers that he said he needed for his wife.
“This is a sad end to a year in which we saw an unprecedented loss of life on Long Island related to the misuse and diversion of opiate painkillers, including robberies, car crashes, overdoses and suicides,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. “If we are to turn the tide in 2012, we need to make addressing addiction a priority.”
It is also the third police-involved shooting this month. A robbery suspect and a Hempstead village police officer were both shot and wounded as they exchanged gunfire Dec. 2. And a Nassau County police officer was shot in the leg during a struggle with a suspect who was then shot dead in East Meadow early Friday morning.