SEAFORD, NY (PIX11)—On the same day official mourning began for a federal agent gunned down while trying to stop a pharmacy robbery, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York called for the Drug Enforcement Administration--DEA--to start sharing information about violent, painkiller theft with local police departments. He said the crime has become a national epidemic.
"Since 2007, robberies at drug stores have doubled," Schumer said at a press conference with top police and government officials from Nassau County. "1,800 pharmacies have even robbed."
As suspect, James McGoey, left the pharmacy with pills and cash, Agent Capano drew his gun and followed McGoey. During a struggle that followed outside on Merrick Road, Agent Capano was fatally wounded by a bullet fired by a retired, Nassau County police Lieutenant. The suspect, McGoey, was killed by an off-duty NYPD officer who fired his own gun.
Senator Schumer said drug gangs are now even hijacking trucks on Interstate 95, which carry painkillers to New York from "pill mills" in Florida. "Throughout I-95, there have been robberies," Schumer said.
The thieves are after highly addictive painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin. Most of the pills are opiates and used to sell for $50 apiece. Now you can get them for $20 each.
"In Nassau, more than one person a week, on average, dies from abuse of opiates," County Executive, Edward Mangano said. He said 75 deaths in Nassau in 2011 were due to opiate abuse.
Nassau Police Commissioner, Thomas Dale, was only on his 2nd day on the job but already knows the pharmacy robberies are a prime concern. He's working with Suffolk County police on a Long Island Pharmacy Crimes Task Force.
The task force was formed last summer, after former U.S. soldier, David Laffer, executed four people in a Medford pharmacy, while stealing 11,000 painkillers for his drug-addicted wife.
Agent John Capano died while doing his sick dad a favor. His wife and teen son were in the car, when he stopped at Charlie's Family Pharmacy. His ATF colleague, Joseph Anarumo, pointed out that Capano, an explosives expert, never ran from danger. "He could have turned away. He didn't. He was serving the people of the state of New York."
Capano's wake Wednesday at Charles G. Schmitt funeral home in Seaford, on Merrick Road, is less than two blocks away from the pharmacy where he lost his life...,on the same side of the street.