Gazebo honors ATF agent slain in Seaford shootout


Seaford finally has a place where people can remember, pay tribute and say thank you to John Capano, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who was killed in a shootout in Seaford on Dec. 31, 2011.

Last Saturday, 15-year-old Cory Levy, of Seaford, unveiled his Eagle Scout project, a memorial gazebo surrounded by a garden at Washington Avenue Park. In front is a plaque honoring Capano, etched with the words, “Greater love hath no man than this … that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Levy began the ceremony, which attracted a crowd of more than 100, by leading the Pledge of Allegiance. After a few speakers commended his work, he explained that the project had been in the works since the idea first occurred to him two years ago. His scoutmasters at Troop 239 suggested a memorial garden.

“I had to think of someone from this community who’s a role model and someone who people can look up to,” Levy said. “Someone who’s strong, brave and would give their life for the benefit of others. The first person I thought of was John.”

When he started collecting donations for the work, not a single person turned him down, he recalled. When he described his project to a man who happened to be walking his dog, the man reached into his wallet and handed Levy a $50 bill. “This project has been a goal of mine,” the teen told the gathering, “and I’m very happy I can share it with my community members at this beautiful park.”

Thomas Cannon, the special agent in charge of ATF operations in the New York field division, said he never had the opportunity to serve with Capano, but explained that Capano had an obligation to protect people and society. “In that way,” Cannon said, “we are brothers.”

Capano began his ATF career at a training academy in southern Georgia, Cannon said, adding that the training has since been enhanced because of the incident in which Capano died.

U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who was close to Capano and who routinely sees his neighbor Cory Levy playing hockey with friends in the street, said that the project is a true reflection of Levy’s character. “This is a great young man from a great family,” King said. “I want to thank Cory for his dedication.”

Capano’s widow, Dori, told the Herald Citizen that the dedication was special to all those who were close to him. “Really, it’s just wonderful that, 28 months out, John continues to be remembered and honored by the community,” she said. “It just means so much to our whole family.”

Levy presented Dori and other members of Capano’s family stones that were part of the memorial’s construction. And then Jay Gary, a scouting leader in Nassau County, presented Levy with three patches that signify leadership. He said that we should not be concerned about our future with young people like Levy leading the way. Public officials echoed that sentiment.

“Two years ago, we dedicated John’s hometown street to him,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said. “We talked about how the peace, tranquility and freedom are a direct result of brave individuals like John Capano. This memorial will always serve as a reminder of his heroism.”