An off-duty federal agent who died after intervening in a pharmacy robbery in Seaford was likely shot by a retired police officer who responded, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
ATF agent John Capano, 51, was shot Saturday while struggling with a suspect during a robbery for prescription painkillers and cash at a small family pharmacy. Capano was a customer and followed the suspect, who was later shot and killed, as he tried to flee.
A retired Nassau County police lieutenant who runs a nearby deli and an off-duty New York City police officer in the deli ran to the scene and saw the skirmish between Capano and the suspect, later identified as 43-year-old James McGoey of Hampton Bays.
The law enforcement official said it is believed the retired Nassau officer shot Capano during the skirmish. The NYPD officer shot the suspect.
The official is familiar with the investigation but not authorized to release information and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. A Nassau County police spokesman declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
The shooting appears to be the second so-called friendly fire in Nassau County last year. In March, a Nassau police officer in plainclothes was shot to death by a transit authority officer in Massapequa Park.
The shooting was also the second deadly holdup in a pharmacy on Long Island in 2011; in June, a gunman opened fire in a drugstore about 30 miles east in Medford, killing two employees and two customers before fleeing with a backpack filled with painkillers.
McGoey had four robbery convictions on his record, three of which were pharmacy holdups, between 1990 and 2000, court records indicate. He was released from prison in August 2010.
Armed robberies at pharmacies in the U.S. rose 81 percent between 2006 and 2010, from 380 to 686, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Capano, a 23-year veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, taught U.S. military and local forces in Afghanistan and Iraq how to investigate explosions, said Rory O’Connor, an agent at the ATF’s New York office. He lived in nearby Massapequa and was married with two children.
His funeral is Friday.
Associated Press writer Colleen Long in New York City contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.