Metro

Deputy sheriff’s actions likely saved lives, prosecutor says

Plymouth County Sheriff’s office.

Plymouth County Deputy James Creed.

James Creed was dining with his wife at a restaurant in a Taunton mall Tuesday night when Arthur J. DaRosa stormed in and began stabbing first a waitress and then a high school teacher who had rushed to the woman’s aid, officials said.

Seconds later, the 35-year-old Plymouth County deputy sheriff tapped into his law enforcement training and ended a violent spree by the 28-year-old DaRosa by firing a single shot into the Taunton man’s abdomen, said Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III.

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Creed, Quinn said Wednesday, should be considered a hero whose actions likely saved the lives of many people inside the Bertucci’s Restaurant.

Before attacking the waitress and George A. Heath, the good Samaritan teacher at the restaurant, DaRosa had wounded three other people in the same mall and earlier had stabbed and killed 80-year-old Patricia Slavin and seriously injured her daughter in a home in Taunton. Heath died from his wounds.

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“He displayed his badge. He identified himself as a police officer,” Quinn said of Creed’s actions. “He gave multiple commands to DaRosa to drop his knife.’’

Only after DaRosa refused to drop the weapon did Creed open fire, the district attorney said.

“When confronted by this extremely violent and dangerous situation, he reacted in a professional but heroic manner,’’ Quinn said at a press conference Wednesday. “He prevented further carnage from occurring.’’

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Attempts to reach Creed and his family for comment were unsuccessful.

Creed joined the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department in 2005 and has worked as a K-9 officer since 2007, duties that often lead to him assisting local departments searching for suspects or missing persons, officials said.

John Birtwell, spokesman for Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald Jr., said Creed used his personal sidearm during his confrontation with DaRosa, not a department-issued firearm.

In a statement, McDonald said that he was proud of Creed’s “heroic actions and his ability to apply his professional training and restraint in an obviously traumatic and perilous situation. I am also relieved that through his swift and deliberate response, further additional loss of life or injury to other bystanders was averted.’’

The sheriff also extended his condolences “to the families of those who have suffered losses from these tragic events, and offer wishes of a safe recovery for those injured.’’

In addition, he noted that after the shooting Creed “remained at the scene to render aid to the victims and Mr. DaRosa.”

Birtwell said Creed was dining with his wife at the time, which could have only intensified the tension and concern that Creed had when he became involved in the incident.

“He was dining with his wife,’’ Birtwell said. “And so in the middle of all this he is not only having to react to other diners and patrons and employees being accosted, but there was also the element of his own family present as well.’’

But, Birtwell added, “he had the foresight and the professional training to discharge his weapon just once.’’

Birtwell said that when Creed is not assisting other departments, his primary task is providing perimeter security for the House of Correction and Jail in Plymouth. Birtwell noted that the jail housed James “Whitey” Bulger while he was on trial as well as other dangerous federal detainees over the years.

The deputy also received praise on Wednesday from Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson.

“I want to thank and salute Plymouth County Deputy Sheriff Creed, for his quick and decisive action, when he shot and killed the suspect who randomly began stabbing people as they were dining at the Bertucci’s restaurant In Taunton,” Hodgson said in a statement.

“The suspect killed one person and stabbed several others before Deputy Creed was able to engage him and prevent further injuries or death to other patrons. Shortly before the incident, the suspect murdered a second person at a Taunton home and injured at least one person at the same house. Thanks to Deputy Sheriff Creed for his swift and heroic action during this horrific rampage.”

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
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