Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beverly, MA: Sergeant’s wife ‘poured her heart out’ to officer

BEVERLY -- One day after he was nearly shot to death by Hamilton police Sergeant Kenneth Nagy, Beverly police officer Jason Lantych told his superiors that Nagy’s wife “poured her heart out to me,’’ but he insisted they had never been intimate.

The details of Lantych’s conversations with his superiors were among the investigative reports released today into the Feb. 24 near-fatal attack by one law enforcement officer on another, an act of violence that played out in front of a Starbucks coffee shop in a busy north Beverly shopping plaza.

Nagy committed suicide after the incident.

In his report, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Nagy shot Lantych with his service weapon because he feared Lantych and his wife, Katherine Nagy, were having a relationship. Investigators also learned that Nagy left behind a suicide note, $3,900 in cash, and that the Nagys had discussed the possibility of ending their marriage in the hours before the shooting.

“The events of February 24 were shocking and deeply unsettling,’’ Blodgett said in a letter that accompanied the report. “Based upon his perception of a relationship between Lantych and his wife, Nagy twice shot Lantych at the Starbucks. He fled, returned to the scene, and killed himself. ... This investigation is concluded.’’

Beverly police today provided the Globe with their own reports, including a summary of the conversation between Lantych and his superiors held one day after the shooting. That discussion occurred at Beverly Hospital, where Lantych was being treated for gunshot wounds. Lantych asked to speak privately with Detective Lieutenant Timothy Hegarty.

“Jason then proceed to tell me that he was sorry,’’ Hegarty wrote in his report. “I told him he did nothing wrong. He again apologized. I told him he did not have to apologize for anything and to get rest.’’

Hegarty then wrote that “Jason appeared groggy due to the medication but told me that he has known Katy Nagy since high school. Recently, they have had conversations where, according to Jason, she has ‘poured her heart out to me.’ ”

Lantych continued to talk, the detective wrote. “He said, ‘I had a moment of weakness with Katy.’’ The detective then quoted Lantych as saying before he fell asleep, “ ‘I was never intimate with her.’ ”

Virginia Potter, Katherine Nagy’s mother, said today her daughter was not available for comment, when reached at her reached at her Rowley home.

Beverly Police Chief Mark Ray has hired an outside consultant to examine the department’s response and its policies. It does not currently ban personal relationships among co-workers. Katherine Nagy was a domestic violence advocate for the department and both she and Lantych attended a domestic violence training seminar in San Antonio in August.

In a statement announcing the hiring of an outside consultant, Ray said the shooting “has weighed heavily upon the men and women of the Beverly Police Department and our community. ... It is the intent of the Beverly Police Department to improve this organization in every way possible, so that we may continue the good work of protecting our citizens.”

According to Blodgett’s report, after he shot Lantych, Nagy drove off and became the target of a manhunt by law enforcement. Nagy eluded the search, returned to the plaza, and shot himself in his car around 10:30 p.m.

Today, Blodgett said the investigation concluded that “no prosecutable crime has been committed’’ because Nagy killed himself after he shot Lantych, who has been recovering at Beverly Hospital.

Blodgett’s report details the last two days of Nagy’s life, beginning with his return to the couple’s Rowley home at 7 a.m. on Feb. 23 after he finished his overnight shift at the Hamilton department. At 10 a.m. that day, Nagy had a medical appointment where he was prescribed -- and later filled -- Zoloft, an anti-depressant.

Around noon, Nagy met with his wife at a Beverly police satellite office where the couple discussed Nagy’s doctor’s visit. The report does not detail what kind of doctor he met, or who prescribed the medication for him.

That evening, Nagy and his wife attended funeral services for Hamilton police Sergeant Paul Grant; Nagy left the services early, drove to a cellphone store in Beverly and later called in sick for his next shift, which would have begun at midnight on the morning of Feb. 24.

Around 1 a.m. on Feb. 24, Nagy returned to the couple’s home where he woke up his wife and began a conversation.

“They discussed issues relating to their marriage including his belief that she was having an improper relationship with Lantych,’’ the report states. “Included in the discussion was the possibility of divorce.’’

The couple then mapped out the routine for the upcoming day: Katherine Nagy would go to her parents’ home in Hamilton and Nagy would drop their two children off later. At 2 a.m., a “composed” Nagy telephoned a friend to discuss his “future plans,’’ the report said.

At 6:15 a.m, Katherine Nagy left for her parents’ home. Five minutes later, Nagy sent Lantych text messages, the report states.

Nagy texted Lantych: “Hey Jay ... thanks a a lot, buddy.’’ He also called Lantych an “expletive’’ and “see you soon my friend.’’

While driving to her parents’ home, Katherine Nagy called Lantych and summarized her conversation with Nagy. “As they were speaking, Nagy called Lantych; they spoke and Nagy confronted him about the relationship. Lantych said, ‘it’s not what you think, Ken,’ ’’ and offered to meet him in person,’’ the report states.

The conversation ended.

By early afternoon, Nagy’s composure was slipping, the report said. When he met with his wife at 1 p.m. at his inlaws’ house, he was “distraught,’’ the report said. He planned to return to Rowley and work in their attic while he waited for her to return around 8 p.m.

Nagy left his in-laws around 2:30 p.m. in the couple’s black Saab SUV; he returned to the cellphone store where he failed to acknowledge a worker he had warmly greeted before, the report said.

“Nagy looked at him and walked out of the store as if he didn’t know him,’’ the report said.

Meanwhile, Lantych finished his shift, and was met by his mother before they headed to a friend’s house. Nagy called around 5 p.m. and Lantych agreed to meet before Katherine Nagy returned to the couple’s home at 8 p.m.

“Lantych suggested they meet at the Starbucks in Beverly; he joked that this was so Nagy would not shoot him,’’ the report said. “Nagy reportedly laughed and agreed to meet him there.’’

Lantych was driven to the Starbucks at 25 Enon St. by his mother, who parked nearby.

The report then provides a detailed account of the shooting, based in part on surveillance video captured inside the Starbucks.

5:36 p.m.: Lantych walks in from a rear entrance, alone, buys a cup of coffee and waits for Nagy near the front door. Nagy arrives in the black Saab and enters through the front door.

5:36 - 5:38 p.m. The two men talk inside the store. “Lantych relates that Nagy, though upset, was calm during the conversation.’’

5:39 to 5:45 p.m. Lantych grabbed his coffee and the two men walked outside where they continued to talk. Nagy walked away, got into his car and was driving out of the parking lot when he stopped.

“Lantych walked back toward the front of the Starbucks and began to call his mother to pick him up. Nagy backed out his vehicle and stopped. Lantych approached the vehicle. Nagy fired two shots at Lantych through the vehicle’s open window, striking him in the wrist and thigh,’’ the report states.

Lantych later told investigators that he did not see the weapon and “could not recall what Nagy said before shooting him,’’ the report states.

Bleeding heavily, Lantych stumbled back to the front of the store where some patrons rushed out to offer first aid, including a registered nurse, a pre-med student, and Starbucks employees who managed to slow the blood flowing from his femoral artery.

Bystanders asked Lantych who shot him and he identified Nagy as his attacker; Lantych told bystanders that Nagy “has a few things’’ against him.

Lantych’s mother saw her son, bleeding from the gunshot wounds, and began to scream, calming only when she was assured he was still alive.

Beverly officers confirmed that Nagy was the attacker and started looking for him. They also first made sure that Katherine Nagy and the children were safe -- she was still at her mother’s house and her phone had been off. As a security measure, an officer was posted outside the house.

Police, meanwhile, forced their way inside the Nagy family home in Rowley.

“They found no one home. A suicide note from Nagy was found with a large amount of cash next to it. ... it disclosed that he intended to shoot Lantych if he was able to meet with him that evening, and then kill himself,’’ the report said.

Nagy also left detailed information about the family’s finances, life insurance policies, “and instructions for his funeral arrangements.’’

Katherine Nagy told investigators she did not know her husband planned to shoot Lantych and did not know where he then was.

Meanwhile, Beverly officers were still processing the crime scene at the Starbucks -- when Nagy drove slowly back into the shopping plaza around 10:30 p.m.

“Nagy turned into the Starbucks parking lot and drove slowly past the cruiser, without looking to his left at the crime scene. He drove into the lower parking lot behind Starbucks and parked. There were no other people in the lot,’’ the report states.

As police prepared to arrest Nagy. they discovered he was dead, having shot himself once in the head with his .40 caliber Glock service pistol, according to Blodgett’s report.

A copy of the suicide note and a personal journal were beside him. Authorities said the suicide note and the journal would not be released to the public “out of respect for the privacy interests of surviving family members,” the report states.

Police later checked Nagy’s computer and learned he had written the suicide note around 5 p.m. that day.

Three shell casings were also found inside the SUV, all from bullets fired from his service weapon, the report said.

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