BEVERLY — Investigators are continuing to probe the motive behind the shooting of a Beverly police officer by a Hamilton police sergeant, including the possibility of criminal activity, the district attorney's office said yesterday.
The investigation "includes inquiry into any and all criminal activity surrounding the incident, though none has been revealed apart from the shooting itself," said Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
"There is still work that remains to be done," Monahan said. "We will inform people when the investigation is over."
The shooting has raised questions about why Hamilton police Sgt. Kenneth Nagy shot Beverly police officer Jason Lantych on Friday evening outside the Starbucks on Enon Street in North Beverly. Nagy, 43, a Hamilton officer for 19 years, returned to the scene nearly five hours later and died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Lantych, 35, a 10-year veteran of the Beverly Police Department, was shot in the leg and wrist but survived despite losing a considerable amount of blood. Authorities have said the two police officers were off-duty and had planned to meet.
Monahan said the district attorney's office would not answer specific questions while the investigation is ongoing, such as why the men were meeting, whether Nagy left a suicide note and why Lantych's mother was at the scene.
Monahan said the results from a ballistics test will reveal whether Nagy used his service weapon in the shooting.
Monahan said there is no timetable for completion of the investigation, which is being conducted by the district attorney's office, state police, and the Hamilton and Beverly police departments. She said there "appears to be no ongoing public safety concerns."
Lantych remained in recovery yesterday at Beverly Hospital, where he was speaking and had visits from family members and several police officers, Beverly police Chief Mark Ray said. Monahan said investigators have not yet interviewed Lantych.
Ray said the Lantych and Nagy families have requested privacy after several phone calls from the media. The Lantych family released the following statement through the Beverly Police Department:
"We thank our family, friends and our entire community for their prayers, thoughts and well wishes. The past 72 hours have been extremely difficult, and we are hopeful that the public acknowledges our right to privacy."
Lantych has been divorced since 2008. Nagy is survived by his wife, Katie, and two sons, ages 7 and 5. Katie Nagy works with the Beverly Police Department as a domestic violence victim advocate for HAWC (Healing Abuse Working for Change).
According to her profile on the website LinkedIn, Katie Nagy also worked as a victim witness advocate for the Essex County district attorney's office from 2001 to 2004.
In addition to the broader investigation, Ray said the Beverly Police Department will conduct its own internal investigation.
"Anytime an officer is involved in a situation, we look internally," Ray said. "In that sense, it's routine. It's not unusual. I do want to stress that Officer Lantych was the victim of a violent crime. We treat him just as any other violent crime victim, and we respect his rights and privacy."
Ray referred questions on the investigation to the district attorney's office.
Hamilton police Chief Russell Stevens has not returned phone calls seeking comment over the last two days.
Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon said he wants to learn more about the incident before he comments on its impact on the Police Department.
"It's obviously a very sad event," he said. "I'm pleased that so many citizens pitched in to help save Officer Lantych."
Several bystanders were credited with coming to rescue of Lantych after he was shot and stemming the flow of blood until the ambulance arrived. Ray said those citizens, along with police officers and emergency medical workers who responded, will be recognized for their efforts at a later date.
"We are all thankful from the Police Department for their actions," he said. "Their quick action saved Jason's life."
Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo said the incident is not a reflection on the Hamilton Police Department as a whole. In 2008, many of the town's officers, including Nagy, were found to have falsely signed attendance rosters saying they attended EMT refresher classes. The former police chief was indicted and pleaded guilty, and the town lost its ambulance license.
"I have every confidence in Chief Russ Stevens (who took over in September 2009) and the way he's managing the department," Lombardo said. "All indications are that this is some form of dispute between two individuals and not related to any police function. I'm not willing to own the responsibility of every individual in town. There was no indication of any problems at all."
Jennifer Scuteri, chairwoman of the Hamilton selectmen, opened the board's meeting last night with a statement expressing condolences to the Nagy and Lantych families.
Selectman Jeff Hubbard spoke for the benefit of Nagy's two young sons, saying, "They are a part of the community and always will be."
Nagy's funeral has been scheduled for Friday at 10:15 a.m. at the Murphy Funeral Home in Salem, followed by a Mass at St. James Church, also in Salem.
Staff writer Bethany Bray contributed to this story.