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Arrest made in slaying of 4 in Long Island pharmacy robbery

A 33-year-old man described by neighbors as polite and friendly was arrested Wednesday in connection with the deaths of four people who were shot at a pharmacy during a robbery for painkillers.

As neighbors watched, David Laffer, who a few years ago proposed to his then-girlfriend at a New York Islanders hockey game, was led out of his brown and yellow ranch-style home in handcuffs. He was later arrested, said Jack Eddington, chairman of the Suffolk County Legislature's public safety committee.

Laffer faces charges of first-degree murder and resisting arrest, according to Suffolk County police. He was being held overnight in the Fifth Precinct and was scheduled for arraignment today, police said.

Laffer said nothing as he was led from police headquarters and later was hospitalized briefly. Officials refused to comment on his condition.

His arrest capped a massive manhunt for the gunman, who was captured on surveillance footage as a tall, gaunt, bearded man wearing glasses, a white baseball cap and a hooded sweat shirt.

The gunman was bent on stealing painkillers, officials said. The victims were shot at very close range.

Thirty to 40 officers converged on Laffer's Long Island home before he was brought out, said Peter Spano, who was working on the lawn next door. Laffer's wife, Melinda Brady, 29, also was led away. She was charged with robbery and obstructing governmental administration. Police said she was being held overnight and also would be arraigned today.

Spano said the thin, "distraught" man resembled the man in the surveillance photos, except without a beard.

Friends and neighbors described Laffer as polite and said, if he had a drug problem, they did not see it. He lived at his family's home in Medford with his mother, Pam, and his wife.

According to their wedding announcement, Laffer and Melinda Brady Laffer met while they were out to dinner with mutual friends, and he proposed to her at an Islanders game.

Next-door neighbor Trish Bohlert attended the wedding and said Laffer was always friendly.

"Something must have made him snap," she said.

The wedding announcement said Laffer worked in logistics shipping and receiving, but whether he was currently employed remained unclear. Everyone in the pharmacy was killed -- pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, 45, of Centereach and store clerk Jennifer Mejia, 17, of East Patchogue, plus two customers, Bryon Sheffield, 71, of Medford and Jamie Taccetta, 33, of Farm-ingville.

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