Officers in fatal Beverly shooting had planned meeting

Investigators say its purpose is unconfirmed

Hamilton Police Sergeant Ken Nagy was found shot to death in a car in Beverly, near where he allegedly shot Beverly Officer Jason Lantych.
Hamilton Police Sergeant Ken Nagy was found shot to death in a car in Beverly, near where he allegedly shot Beverly Officer Jason Lantych.

BEVERLY - The police sergeant and officer involved in shootings Friday that left one dead and the other in serious condition had arranged to meet at the Starbucks where the tragedy unfolded, officials said yesterday.

The purpose of the meeting has not yet been confirmed, according to a statement from the Essex district attorney’s office.

Hamilton Police Sergeant Ken Nagy, 43, shot Beverly Police Officer Jason Lantych, 35, in the leg and wrist at 5:48 p.m. outside the Starbucks on Enon Street in Beverly, the district attorney’s office said yesterday.

About 10:30 p.m., Nagy returned to the coffee shop parking lot and, minutes later, authorities found him dead inside a black Saab sport utility vehicle. Nagy died from a single gunshot wound to the head, the district attorney said. The death was ruled a suicide after an autopsy.

Lantych underwent surgery Friday night after sustaining “very serious injuries’’ and was in serious condition, District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett said. Authorities had no update on his condition yesterday, but the Beverly Police Department posted on Facebook that he was “on the road to recovery.’’

The statement from the district attorney’s office said Nagy’s wife, Katie, is an employee at Healing Abuse, Working for Change, a local domestic violence agency. She works as an advocate for domestic violence victims, under a grant to the Beverly Police Department.

Blodgett commended the people in the Starbucks who rushed to the aid of Lantych. “The courage and fast action of those individuals most certainly saved Officer Lantych’s life,’’ he said in his statement.

Matthew Miller, 34, of Beverly, was reading a book at Starbucks on Friday evening when he heard two loud bangs outside of the window, then screaming.

“I just heard the sound, I heard the shots, and I knew that it wasn’t good,’’ he recalled yesterday.

He said he ran outside to see Lantych, who was limping toward the door of the Starbucks while grasping his right thigh. Miller said the officer repeated over and over, “Ken Nagy shot me. . . . Ken Nagy is the man who shot me.’’

Miller tried to support the tall officer under one of his shoulders, he said, but Lantych fell to the ground, his head striking the Starbucks door. Miller shouted to others inside the café for help.

When Lantych let go of his wounded leg, blood sprayed. About 10 others from inside the Starbucks rushed out, dragged a bench over, and lifted the officer’s legs onto it, Miller said. Several men ripped off their shirts to create a tourniquet to stop the blood from flowing.

As ambulances arrived, Lantych grew dazed and delirious.

“I never thought that anything like this could happen,’’ Miller said. “It’s such a tight-knit community.

Nagy and Lantych were model members of their neighboring police forces, according to many residents in both communities.

Nagy, who had been on the Hamilton police force for almost two decades, was known as a friendly, cordial man.

“He was a great police officer, a good investigator, and well-liked by the community,’’ Hamilton Police Chief Russell Stevens said. “He will be greatly missed.’’

As a member of the Beverly force, Lantych at one time served as a school resource officer at Beverly High School and is known around town as Officer Jay.

“He was well liked by the kids as well as the faculty and staff in the schools,’’ Beverly police Chief Mark Ray said.

A few times a week, both Nagy and Lantych stopped in at Nick’s Famous Roast Beef, a restaurant favored by local law enforcement officers, for a bite to eat before or after their shifts - but never together, recalled Brenna MacKay, 29, an employee.

Lantych, she said, is “extremely outgoing, boisterous, and fun.’’ The officer, who she said is single, often cracks jokes with employees at the restaurant.

Nagy had a wife and two young children, MacKay said.

“He was always so nice, and quiet, and very polite,’’ MacKay said. “We’d joke around with him, and with all the officers who come in here.’’

Other police officers who know the men came into the diner late last night, upset and struggling to understand what prompted the altercation, she said.

“Everyone’s just kind of torn up about it,’’ MacKay said.

Beverly Mayor William F. Scanlon Jr. called the shooting “a terribly sad event,’’ in an interview yesterday.

Scanlon said state and local investigators will conduct a thorough review of the shootings, adding that the Beverly police chief is working closely with state investigators and the Essex district attorney’s office.

“Everything I’ve ever known of Officer Lantych is that he’s always been a very fine officer.’’

Town and city officials in both Hamilton and Beverly said their communities are distraught about the shooting.

“People are just despondent,’’ said Jennifer Scuteri, chairwoman of the Hamilton Board of Selectmen.

Scuteri said she knew Nagy personally and described him as “always professional and always personable.’’

Beverly City Councilor Scott Dullea said that although he doesn’t know Lantych, the officer is well-respected.

He has “a good reputation on the force,’’ he said. “I’ve heard from multiple sources he’s a good cop.’’

Dullea said he could sense a profound feeling of shock in the city when he went out to breakfast with his wife yesterday morning at Stephy’s Kitchen, a local restaurant.

“No one knows why it happened. People are trying to put things together,’’ he said.

Beverly City Council president Paul Guanci said that, in his capacity as school resource officer, Lantych always “had a smile on his face and he loved what he was doing.’’

He described him as soft-spoken and professional.

“It’s terrible that this happened,’’ he said.

In December 2008, the Salem News reported that Nagy was one of several emergency medical technicians who admitted signing attendance rosters for EMT refresher training courses, despite attending only some of the courses, or not attending at all.

In December 2009, according to Scuteri and news reports, Nagy was honored by the Hamilton Board of Selectmen as one of the heroes involved in rescuing a man and his dog who fell through the ice on Pleasant Pond.

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