Police are waiting for the results from ballistics tests to determine if John Capano, 51, was killed by an armed robber -- or, if he was the victim of friendly fire.
One thing became clear to people walking past Charlie's Pharmacy in Seaford Sunday afternoon: prescription drug abuse is claiming too many lives and there needs to be tighter regulation.
"It's not just drug users, innocent people are getting killed," said Patricia Panquarello.
According to authorities, Capano -- an off-duty Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent --was in Charlie's Pharmacy picking up a prescription for his father, when he got into a struggle with an armed James McGoey, 43.They say he'd just held up the store and was fleeing with OxyContin pills and cash.
Meanwhile, a customer inside the drug store managed to escape and ran next door to the deli, alerting an off-duty New York City cop and a retired Nassau County Police Lieutenant about what was happening.
Then, investigators say the pair ran into McGoey and Capano struggling in the doorway; shots were fired killing McGoey and Capano.
Michael Diaz was riding his bike when the chaos erupted. "It looked like no one knew what was going on." he said.
While detectives piece together what happened in Seaford, friends and family got together at Capano's Massapequa home.
An ATF official described him as a "hero." Capano was a certified explosives expert, who volunteered, served and survived 23 months in Afghanistan and Iraq; he's leaves behind his wife and two children.
"Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic, it's worse then heroin" said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.
About a mile away in Massapequa Park last March, Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey Brietkopf was shot dead in a friendly fire incident, when an officer with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority(MTA) mistook him for an assailant.
Then in June, David Laffer shot and killed four people inside Haven Drugs in Medford as he robbed the pharmacy of prescription pain killers.
Mangano said certain chemicals have been added to powerful prescription drugs like OxyContin to make them less appealing. In addition, he said the county is sending out mailings to pharmacies with information on how to protect their businesses and customers from violence and abuse.
Edited By Michelle RobinsonCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun