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Final Respects for Hero ATF Agent

Thousands turn out for services for John F. Capano

In a scene that has become all-too-familiar to Massapequa area residents, another hero law enforcement agent was laid to rest last week.

On Friday, Jan. 6, a funeral was held for John F. Capano, a Massapequa resident and federal agent who died while trying to apprehend a robbery suspect at an incident in Seaford.

The services took place at St. William the Abbot Roman Catholic Church in Seaford, the same village where Capano graduated from high school. From there, the procession traveled to the burial at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.

Thousands of people turned out for the funeral, including those who came as far away as California. Among the dignitaries in attendance was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holden.

“It wasn’t just the way he died that makes him an example to all of us – it was the way he lived,” said Holder. “It was his willingness to place the safety of others above his own. It was his eagerness to serve those around him, and to fight every day to make this nation safer and more secure.”

A Daughter’s Tribute


Also delivering a heartfelt eulogy was Capano’s 15-year old daughter, Natalie, one simply entitled, “Our Hero” and one so moving that it is reprinted here in its entirety:

“What is a hero? According to the dictionary, a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage and outstanding achievements. A hero is a person who lives for others and who puts others’ needs before themselves.    

“According to me, my Dad is a hero, because of everything he has done for others no matter the size. It wasn’t just the final act that made my Dad a hero, it was everything he did throughout his life.

“Just by having Dad present in any situation, we were all a little safer. Dad shoveled snow for our neighbors, because he didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Dad offered rides to those who were in need, even when they insisted otherwise. Dad always wanted what was best for other people and always went out of his way to make sure they got that. Every good deed he did stemmed from natural instinct and no act was too big to handle. By doing what he did best, Dad saved so many lives everyday for people who couldn’t have possibly known.

“Dad was a hero to Grandma. He was there for her every time she needed him; and he was there for her even when she didn’t want him to be! He was a hero to Grandpa. Just by being his son, he made his father so proud. He was a hero of my Mom, because he gave her a beautiful life and family in New York. I know my Mom was his hero, too. By being who she was, Mom gave him someone to fight for and someone to love. Dad was a hero to our entire family, because he loved us infinitely and always put smiles on our faces.

“Dad made an impact. It was his ability to passionately share his own interests and knowledge and also learn about the interest of others, but it was also everything else. People knew Dad for his dedication to his job and the love for his family, and his courageous selfless acts that shaped him into the person we all know and love. Heroism was the theme of his life.

“We all know and love him for something and it wasn’t just his final heroic act. We love him as husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, friend, cousin, agent, neighbor, and co-worker. Dad made an impact on everyone’s life regardless of the relationship. A hero lives each and every moment so that he ultimately is judged for his whole life and all of the small deeds that make him who he is. For that, Dad was and will always be our hero,” Natalie’s statement concluded.

A Career Full of Honors

John F. Capano spent a long and distinguished career in public service, mostly as a federal agent.

“[Capano] died the way he lived—-being tough and courageous, and helping the community,” said Rep. Peter King (R.-Seaford), who once bestowed a Patriots Award honor to the slain agent.

That award was one of several honors Capano received during his long and distinguished career with The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). During his 24 years with the ATF, Capano served as a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI) and also as a member of the ATF’s Peer Support Group.

In addition, Capano was a Certified Explosives Specialist (CES). In that capacity, he performed much educational work for state and local law enforcement officers in Long Island. That service also took him to several overseas destinations.

In 2007, Capano traveled to Colombia where he provided post-blast investigation and advanced explosives destruction techniques training to both Colombian law enforcement officers and officers and those from neighboring South American nations.

In 2008 and 2010, Capano served in the War on Terrorism in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

For his work in those two countries, Capano was the recipient of the ATF Foreign Service Medal.

Closer to home, Capano, in 2008, received the Award for Public Service for his work in the investigation and trial of the firebombing of Roseanne’s Cards Galore, a stationery store in New Hyde Park.

Prior to joining the ATF, Capano was an investigator with the New York State Department of Law in the Office of the Attorney General.

Capano is survived by his wife, Dori, and their children John M. and Natalie. He is also survived by his father, James Capano (NYPD Ret.); two brothers, Jimmy and Stephen; and three sisters, Maryellen, Katie and Sheila.

John H. Meyer contributed to this article.