Family had sought help for man who was tasered by police as he allegedly stabbed woman
The family of Erich Stelzer, the 25-year-old Cohasset man who died in police custody Thursday night after allegedly attacking a woman he met on a dating website, expressed sympathy for the victim in a statement released Saturday and said they had tried to get him help over the past days.
“They are without words to adequately communicate their grief and sorrow at the events that transpired, the physical and mental pain caused to the victim, and the loss of life of a young man who was someone’s little brother and someone’s son,” according to the statement.
Stelzer’s family said they had sought hospitalization for Stelzer as well as a mental health assessment from Cohasset police and EMTs before the attack.
Cohasset police used Tasers to subdue Stelzer, after officers allegedly found him attacking the 24-year-old woman with a knife and other weapons inside a Church Street home around 10 p.m. Thursday, according to the Norfolk district attorney’s office.
Police were responding to a report of a disturbance at the home. An official with knowledge of the case said Stelzer and the woman had met on the dating app Tinder.
The woman suffered “extensive stabbing and slashing injuries,” according to the district attorney’s office.
Stelzer became unresponsive while being transported to a local hospital and was later pronounced dead, according to the district attorney.
The state office of the chief medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of Stelzer’s death.
In the family’s statement, they said they noticed a decline in Stelzer’s mental health over the past week and said he was experiencing delusions, erratic behavior, and extreme paranoia.
“He had been in the care of mental health professionals for the past month and was receiving treatment, but it became clear that his needs were not being met,” according to the statement.
During a Christmas night gathering, his family saw that his mental health had declined further, they said. They saw no indications that he would become violent but worried about his safety, they said.
They called Cohasset police and EMTs to assess Stelzer, expressing concerns that he was having a “psychotic break” and needed immediate hospitalization.
“The assessment by the EMTs was that he did not need assistance due to the fact that he was lucid enough to know his own name and the date. The family was surprised and unsure how to proceed,” according to the family statement.
Stelzer’s family said they hired a professional intervention team to assist in taking Stelzer to an inpatient facility for treatment, but the events of Thursday night occurred “before the intervention could be implemented.”
Cohasset Police Chief William Quigley could not be reached for comment Saturday night.
Michael Connolly, a spokesman for the Norfolk district attorney’s office, declined comment on the family’s statement.
“We’re investigating the circumstances involving Cohasset police and Mr. Stelzer’s death. It’s an ongoing investigation,” Connolly said.
The victim was hospitalized and will need plastic surgery and an eye specialist, her mother told NECN.
“She’s going to mend, she’s going to be all right. It’s going to take time to recover,” she told the station.