The DEA Honor Roll
Official Line of Duty Deaths
Shield Number: 894
Command: Transit Bureau
Date of Death: 06/26/1976
Cause of Death: Shot During Robbery Off Duty
On Friday, June 25, 1976, off-duty New York City Transit Det. George Caccavale was shot in the chest, thigh, and legs during a robbery of the Van Dam Check Cashing Corporation in Long Island City. Det. Caccavale was working this second job to support his wife and two young children. He drove to a bank to pick up money to bring back to the check cashing facility, and, as he got out of his car with a bag of cash, the three perpetrators — Richard Payton, Percy Moore, and Claude Holland — were lying in wait. They knew Caccavale was an Officer, and despite his immediately taking police action by identifying himself and drawing one of his two firearms, the perpetrators opened fire. Witnesses inside the facility said they heard four shots. The perps also stole the gun Caccavale had drawn as they fled.
On Saturday, June 26, 1976, Det. Caccavale died at Greenpoint Hospital of internal bleeding from his wounds. He was 33 years old and had been with the Transit PD for 11 years. Det. George Caccavale had been one of the original four members of the NYC Transit Police Pickpocket Squad. When he was shot, more than 120 people stepped up to donate blood as he lay in the hospital: back in the day when there was only word-of-mouth to spread the hunt for donors. He was given an Inspector’s funeral by his Department and the City.
The perps, who first met in Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois while serving time for previous crimes, fled to other cities with clothing, cash, and transportation provided by Claude Holland, but they were eventually caught by the NYPD and Transit Detective Task Force. According to Payton, Holland also participated in a home invasion and robbery in Short Hills, NJ, as well as the robbery of a liquor store in Brooklyn, and the robbery and murder of a couple in Chicago. For killing Det. Caccavale, the perps received 25 years to life. Richard Payton died in prison in 2007. Percy Moore died in prison in 2009. Claude Holland is still incarcerated.
Det. Caccavale’s widow Nancy, who always referred to her husband as “Papa George,” never received the support or recognition that Officers do today when combat death occurs. She had to support her then-nine-year-old son Carmine and three-week-old daughter Carla on her own. Also left grieving were other family members, colleagues, and many friends, including his neighbors, former City and State politician Mario Biaggi and the Biaggi family. At the time of Caccavale’s death, Biaggi was a United States Representative from The Bronx. Det. Caccavale was slated to be an usher at Mario Biaggi’s daughter Jacqueline’s wedding the Saturday after he was killed. They left a symbolic empty seat for Det. Caccavale at the wedding. On Friday, July 2, 1976, Mario Biaggi read into the Congressional Record “A Special Tribute to George Caccavale” called “A Man of Peace Felled By A World of Violence,” which can still be downloaded from the government’s own website.
Caccavale was a devoted husband and a loving father. Caccavale’s widow, Nancy, passed away in March of 2010. She is buried with her husband.
When the NYC Transit Police and NYPD merged in 1995, the DEA recognized Det. Caccavale’s death as being in the line of duty and his name was added to the DEA Honor Roll. However, the NYPD took a longer time to recognize Det. Caccavale’s sacrifice; but finally, through the efforts of the DEA, the Department included Det. Caccavale as a line-of-duty death in 2017.
George and Nancy’s daughter Carla Caccavale and her children have stepped up to represent her father’s legacy. Carla participates in every police event she can: attending DEA annual events, and raising monies for the DEA Widow’s and Children’s Fund. Her last venture was to sell original sweatshirts she designed to honor her father. This raised thousands of dollars for the DEA’s Widow’s and Children’s Fund and for the families of other Detectives who were killed or died in the line of duty. But, when the Pelham, New York school district prohibited their staff from wearing the sweatshirts on the job, Carla was able to exhibit what a skilled public relations professional she is: the story ran in dozens of media outlets, from the New York Times, to Fox & Friends, to NBC, to the cover of the civil service newspaper The Chief, to the Daily Mail in England.
Despite all the controversy, Carla went on to create a scholarship award in her father’s name at the Pelham Middle School: the Annual Detective George Caccavale Memorial Award. The Award is bestowed upon a student who demonstrates leadership, courage and determination. The recipient has to exhibit exemplary teamwork and lead by example with an emphasis on kindness, inclusivity, hard work, and modesty. The school just granted its second annual award.
On October 29, 2019, the NYPD Transit Bureau named one of their newly graduated German Shepherds “Vale” after Det. Caccavale.
In the fall 2020, Carla connected with the man who handled and helped solve her father’s homicide, retired NYPD First Grade Det. John Daly. On September 12, 2021, on his 89th birthday, Carla and a friend made a surprised visit to him in Virginia. The heartwarming story appeared in the fall 2021 DEA magazine, The Gold Shield: