TAUNTON, MASSACHUSETTS - Two bystanders and an off-duty deputy sheriff were hailed as heroes Wednesday for intervening when a mentally disturbed man went on a stabbing rampage at a home and a mall hours after leaving a hospital, killing two people and injuring at least five others.
Arthur DaRosa’s 4-mile trail of destruction, authorities say, included entering a random home where he stabbed two people eating dinner, several attempted carjackings, driving a car into a Macy’s, beating several people inside the department store and then stabbing two people in a restaurant. He was shot and killed by a deputy sheriff when he refused to drop a knife inside the Bertucci’s restaurant, the Bristol County prosecutor said.
District Attorney Thomas Quinn III gave this account:
DaRosa’s rampage began Tuesday evening, when he suddenly left his daughter’s soccer practice in Taunton, 40 miles south of Boston, in a Honda Accord owned by her mother and struck a pickup truck.
DaRosa then tried unsuccessfully tried to get into several houses before entering a home where Patricia Slavin, 80, and her daughter, Kathleen Slavin, 58, were eating dinner. DaRosa stabbed the women, whom he didn’t know, and then ran from the house.
Patricia Slavin died of multiple stab wounds. Her daughter was hospitalized in the intensive-care unit.
DaRosa tried to carjack multiple people driving or stopped nearby but finally got back into the Honda, drove to the Silver City Galleria Mall a few miles away and crashed into the front entrance of Macy’s. Inside the store, he assaulted at least three women. One remained hospitalized Wednesday.
A Macy’s employee intervened and tried to stop DaRosa, but he left and walked to the Bertucci’s, where he grabbed a knife and stabbed a waitress, Sheenah Savoy, multiple times.
George Heath, a visual design teacher at the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, was at the bar at Bertucci’s with his wife, Rosemary Heath. She said they had just ordered a drink when they heard a scream and saw DaRosa stabbing a young woman.
“He had the back of her shirt and kept stabbing her, and by the time she got to me, she was screaming, ‘Help me! Help me! Help Me!'” she told WCVB-TV.
Rosemary Heath said she pushed the woman out of the way and grabbed the back of DaRosa’s shirt.
“My husband was struggling with him to get the knife away,” she said. “I think he went down low on him to get him around the elbows so he couldn’t raise his arm up, and then he pulled his arm back and then stabbed my husband in the head.”
George Heath, 56, later died. Savoy, 26, remained hospitalized in serious condition Wednesday.
Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. called Heath “certainly a hero.”
“He stepped up,” Hoye said. “He prevented a tragic situation from getting worse.”
Rosemary Heath said Plymouth County Deputy Sheriff James Creed, who was off-duty and at Bertucci’s eating dinner, repeatedly ordered DaRosa to drop the knife.
Quinn said that when DaRosa refused Creed fired one shot at his abdomen, killing him and preventing “further carnage.”
Quinn said DaRosa, who was 28 and had two young daughters, had checked himself in to Morton Hospital on Monday after his sister observed him behaving erratically, was released Tuesday and went on the rampage hours later.
“This appears to be an irrational series of actions,” Quinn said. “It’s beyond comprehension what the man did.”
DaRosa’s family said he didn’t have a diagnosis and wasn’t on medication but had been battling mental illness in recent months and suffered a breakdown.
“He just snapped,” aunt Liz DaRosa said.
She said the killings could have been prevented had the hospital kept him longer rather than discharging him. She apologized to the families of the victims, saying, “We can’t understand it, never mind what they’re going through.”
Morton Hospital declined comment on what type of treatment Arthur DaRosa received, citing patient privacy laws.