Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Source: David Laffer arrested in Medford pharmacy shooting

This is a photo of David Laffer found
Culminating an intense three-day manhunt triggered by a cold-blooded mass murder, Suffolk police Wednesday morning arrested a Medford man in connection with the quadruple murder at a Medford pharmacy, a police source said.

Officers took David Laffer, 33, into custody three days after the murders at Haven Drugs on Sunday, the source said. Laffer offered some resistance when he was arrested about 10 a.m. at 30 Pitchpine Place, the source said, and he was taken to Yaphank police headquarters.

A beard the shooter had during the shooting was part of an apparent disguise, the source said.
Pat Moran, grandmother of Jaime Taccetta, one of the four victims, made a brief appearance at the suspect's house, which was cordoned off by police.

"You're the devil," a tearful Moran said of the man in custody. "And God always wins out."

Officials said surveillance cameras at Haven Drugs captured the events: A thin young man wearing a white baseball cap and sunglasses walking into the store and shooting the pharmacist, Raymond Ferguson, 45; and an employee, Jennifer Mejia, 17, of Medford, a high school senior. The gunman then shot two customers: Bryon Sheffield, 71, of Medford, who was picking up drugs for his wife's heart ailments; and Taccetta, 33, of Farmingville, a single mother of two.

Images of the bearded gunman were published and broadcast throughout the region.
After learning of a possible arrest, Taccetta's 16-year-old daughter, Miranda, and her father rushed to the scene Wednesday.

"We just wanted to see if it was true," said James Malone, Taccetta's ex-husband.

Five members of the Sheffield family huddled in a small family room in the back of his Medford home, silently watching at live images of the arrests.

Sheila Sheffield, put her hand to her face to contain sobs as her husband's name was mentioned. Her daughter-in-law put her arm on her shoulder to comfort her. He had gone to their neighborhood pharmacy on Sunday to get medication after her recent heart surgery.

They said they were satisfied with the police investigation but would wait to hear the outcome of the arrests before making further comment.

"I've been in contact with the police on a regular basis," said Brian Sheffield, his son. "I know they've been working around the clock. They have been tireless, and we really appreciate it."

Peter Spano was doing siding work on a friend's house next door to where Laffer was taken into custody when he said 30 to 40 cops converged in almost total silence. He said it was if they were "walking on water."

"It made TV look like a joke," said Spano, 52, who was raised in Sayville. "Really, in all honesty, I was in awe."

The man police led out of the house two or three minutes later was subdued and was handcuffed behind his back.

"He looked like death," Spano said, "somebody with the life drained out of him."
Trish Bohlert, a next-door neighbor, said Laffer lived in the house with his wife and mother. She attended his wedding a few years ago, she said.

Bohlert said she was shocked by the arrest and would never have thought that Laffer, who she had not seen in about a week, could commit such a crime.

"He was very nice," said Bohlert, 51. "He was always outside playing with his nieces and nephews."

She said Laffer and his wife had no children.

"He used to always say 'hello' to us and stop and talk."
Neighbor Michael Pagliuca said he was shocked that Laffer could be involved in such a heinous crime.
"David is a very bright intelligent person," Pagliuca said. "I can't believe this." Zaida Ayala, who lives near Laffer and considers him a friend, said she was in "total shock" at the arrest.
Ayala described Laffer as a quiet man who had an interest in the FBI and military. She said she would let her grandchildren play in Laffer's yard and it was never an issue. "Quiet, keeps to himself, cleans the yard, mows the lawn," she said. "Never a word, never a curse, totally shocking." Interviewed at his West Sayville home, Laffer's father-in-law, Charlie Brady, paused and took a deep breath when told of the arrest.

"OK. In that case I better call my wife," Brady said, adding, "After this, no comment."
Following the arrest, Daniel Taccetta, Jaime Taccetta's brother, showed up at the Yaphank jail to see the suspect face-to-face. "I just hope it's him," Daniel Taccetta said, adding that he will follow the case "every step of the way." On Monday, noting that all the victims were defenseless and shot at close range, Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer called the slayings "one of the most heinous, brutal crimes we've ever experienced."

With all four victims collapsed in the storefront shop, the gunman loaded his backpack with opiate painkillers, police said. And he walked out.

It was the worst mass shooting in Long Island since Dec. 7, 1993, when Colin Ferguson opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road train, killing six people and wounding 19.

Investigators believe the suspect was motivated by addiction to painkillers. He took no cash from the register, according to a law enforcement source.

The manhunt for the Medford suspect and pleas by police for any viable information from the public generated hundreds of leads, police said.

Meanwhile, grief and anger rippled through the central Suffolk communities where the victims had lived, as a memorial of flowers and candles sprung up outside the one-story medical office building off Route 112 that houses Haven Drugs.

But, just after noon Wednesday, a police officer took down the electronic sign on Route 112 soliciting tips in the slayings. With Will Van Sant, Ali Eaves, Matthew Chayes, Mikala Jamison, Bart Jones, Tania Lopez, Víctor Manuel Ramos, Patrick Whittle, Olivia Winslow, Jennifer Smith and John Valenti

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