(Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
A patient in a psychiatric center near the Massachusetts General Hospital stabbed his doctor this afternoon before being shot dead by an off-duty security guard, police said.
(Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
The physician is in stable condition, Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said at a press conference this afternoon as he described a chaotic scene.
A relative said the victim was Dr. Astrid Desrosiers, a Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatrist who worked at the center. Isabellie Desrosiers, Desrosiers' sister-in-law, said she had been told by Desrosiers' sister that Astrid had been shot. Police identified the patient late this afternoon as 37-year-old Jay Carciero of Reading.
The actions of the security guard, who does not work at the hospital, were hailed as "heroic" by Bonnie Michelman, head of security for Massachusetts General Hospital.
"We're happy he was there," Michelman said.
The violence occurred just after 2 p.m. on the fifth floor at 50 Staniford St., an office building where the hospital leases space for its Bipolar Clinic and Research Program. The building is a few blocks from the main hospital building on Fruit Street, where an unrelated assault occurred last week.
This afternoon, police and witnesses described a crime scene crowded with medical personnel and patients that stretched from an interior office to a hallway.
“There was blood on the rug,” said David Schoenfeld, a biostatistician who was working in an adjacent office on the fifth floor when the treatment session turned violent. “The man was tall, heavy-set, white, and looked about 35 to 40 years old. He was dressed casually, in jeans.”
After at least one gunshot echoed on the fifth floor, two nurses from Schoenfeld's office went to treat the patient, who had apparently been shot in the head by the security guard, Schoenfeld said.
The patient was still breathing when paramedics arrived. “It felt like it took a long time before the ambulances arrived, but it was probably only a few minutes,” Schoenfeld said.
At the press conference, Davis said that a male psychiatric patient attacked his female physician during a treatment session, stabbing her with a knife.
"During the course of the stabbing incident, an off-duty security officer who was armed interceded," Davis said. "He produced a weapon and ordered the suspect to drop the knife. When the suspect did not comply, he shot the suspect."
Police did not release the names of the doctor or the security guard.
"They just put everything on lockdown and said no one can leave the floor. No one knew what was going on," said a 21-year-old ophthalmology technician, who worked on the sixth floor who declined to give his name.
"You didn't know what was going on, but you knew something happened," he said.
Isabellie Desrosiers she had only a brief conversation with Desrosiers' sister, with the sister crying out, " Astrid has been stabbed. She's bleeding." Then she said she didn't know anything more and hung up, said Desrosiers, who is married to the victim's brother.
"I don't have any details," said Desrosiers, who said she had spent the entire afternoon trying to reach her relatives since receiving that first call. "Is she okay?"
Told her sister-in-law was in stable condition, Desrosiers said she would call the hospital to try to find her.
"She's very dedicated to her patients," she said.
Dr. Desrosiers is a graduate of the State University of Haiti, School of Medicine and Pharmacy, and also holds a master's degree from Harvard's School of Public Health, according to a biography posted on the website of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program. She has been a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General since 2005 and is an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Her major interests include psychopharmacology, the role of psychosocial factors in the treatment of mood disorders, and health disparities and the impact of multicultural issues on patient care, the website said.
Throughout the evening, word started to trickle into the affluent Belmont neighborhood where she lives in a comfortable, spacious home on a tree-lined street. One neighbor left flowers at the scene. Another neighbor, Pat Coppola, called the Desrosiers family “wonderful people”.
“She’s a wonderful lady, a good neighbor," he said. Coppola, who is elderly, noted that in winters Desrosiers' husband would offer to shovel his driveway and in summers he would cut his grass.
He said the family had two college-aged children, a boy and a girl.
Attorney James Perullo, standing in the driveway at the modest Carciero home at the end of a cul-de-sac in a quiet Reading neighborhood, said he was the family spokesman and the family would have no comment tonight. Several people stood in the driveway behind the lawyer; one angrily told a reporter to leave. Police asked reporters to step back several dozen yards.
Reporters and cameramen gathered outside the Boston Police Department headquarters tonight, hoping to interview witnesses to the incident who had been taken there to give their accounts of the incident, as well as the security guard who was also questioned.
This was the second attack in less than a week inside a Massachusetts General Hospital facility. On Thursday afternoon, a 40-year-old homeless man allegedly assaulted a 27-year-old female employee inside a restroom at the main hospital building on Fruit Street. The suspect, David Flavell, a repeat sex offender, was ordered today to undergo a 20-day mental competency evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital.
In 2003, a woman who worked with a prominent cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital fatally shot the doctor and then killed herself in his office near the hospital's main lobby, police said at the time. Authorities were never unable to determine a motive. Hospital officials said there were no complaints about the woman's work performance or behavior and no indication that the woman and the doctor had anything other than a professional relationship.
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