Colleagues Remember Slain ATF Agent

Tight knit group of Long Island ATF agents pay tribute to John Capano.

When Eric Immesberger got a call from police that his colleague John Capano had been shot, he rushed out to see him.

"Several of us got to the hospital very quickly, but John was already gone," said Immesberger, the Special Agent in Charge of the Long Island field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "I held his shoulder and we promised that we'd take care of his kids, and we're going to do that."

Capano, 51, a senior special agent assigned to the field office who was shot and killed while trying to  at in Seaford Saturday, was remembered by his colleagues at a press conference near the ATF's Melville offices Wednesday.

"We have special agents," Immesberger said while fighting back tears, "But John was a very special agent."

Capano, a Massapequa resident, was a 24 year veteran of the bureau.

"He was a terrific person, a terrific dad and everybody liked him," Immesberger said. "He was a go to guy for me."

Capano, a Seaford native, was a highly skilled explosives specialist who often volunteered to go overseas. He has been to Iraq, Afghanistan and Bogota, Colombia, according to Imesberger.

"He never complained and was the first one to volunteer," he said.

The hero agent was also a dedicated family man.

"As much as he loved ATF, he loved his family a hundred times more," Immesberger said.

"It's a testament to John and his beautiful wife the job they did raising their children, and that's perhaps the true measure of a man."

Capano's family has "held up almost beyond human endurance," Imesberger said.

It was the second loss the family has had to deal with this month as the slain agent lost his mother on Dec. 16, according to Mary Ellen Simmons, an administrative assistant at the tight-knit office where five agents are stationed.

The last time she saw Capano was at the mother's wake.

"My mother was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer," she said. "His mother passed away and he was concerned about my mother. That's the type of person he was."

Simmons said that there have been many tears shed in the office over Capano, and she's had a tough time coping.

"I try not to think about it, and then I also try to read the newspapers to keep informed, and all I do is look at his picture and I start crying."

Capano was the first ATF agent killed in the line of duty since the 1993 Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas, officials said.

It's believed the robber in the tragic incident was seeking cash and Oxycontin and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, called for better security for pharmacies at an appearance in Massapequa Park, Wednesday.

Schumer said he sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency asking them to provide security guidelines to local pharmacies. Some suggestions he'd like to see are bullet proof glass and silent alarms.

He also asked the DEA to share information on the theft of controlled substances and prescription drugs with local law enforcement agencies.

The Senator also pushed for tougher penalties for those convicted of pharmacy related crimes.


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