Man behind Taunton mall stabbings described as mentally disturbed
TAUNTON >> Two bystanders and an off-duty deputy sheriff were hailed as heroes Wednesday for intervening when a mentally disturbed man went on a stabbing rampage at a home and a mall hours after leaving a hospital, killing two people and injuring at least five others.
Arthur DaRosa's destruction, authorities say, included entering a random home where he stabbed two people eating dinner, several attempted carjackings, driving a car into a Macy's, beating several people inside the department store and then stabbing two people in a restaurant.
The 28-year-old was shot and killed by Plymouth County Deputy Sheriff James Creed when he refused to drop a knife inside the Bertucci's restaurant in the Silver City Galleria Mall in Taunton, about 40 miles south of Boston, the Bristol County prosecutor said.
District Attorney Thomas Quinn III gave this account:
DaRosa's rampage began at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, when he suddenly left his daughter's soccer practice in a Honda Accord owned by the girl's mother and struck a pickup truck.
DaRosa then tried unsuccessfully to get into several houses before entering a home where Patricia Slavin, 80, and her daughter, Kathleen Slavin, 48, were eating dinner. DaRosa stabbed both women, who he didn't know, then ran from the house.
Patricia Slavin died of multiple stab wounds, while her daughter was taken to a hospital, where she was in the intensive care unit Wednesday.
DaRosa tried to carjack multiple people driving or stopped nearby, but finally got back into the Honda, then drove to the mall a few miles away and crashed the car into the front entrance of Macy's. Inside the store, he assaulted at least three women. One remained hospitalized Wednesday.
A Macy's employee intervened and tried to stop DaRosa, but he left and walked to the Bertucci's, where he grabbed a knife and stabbed a 26-year-old waitress, Sheenah Savoy, multiple times.
George Heath, a 56-year-old visual design teacher at the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, was at the bar at Bertucci's with his wife, Rosemary.
Rosemary Heath said they had just ordered a drink when they heard a scream and saw DaRosa stabbing a young woman,
"He had the back of her shirt and kept stabbing her, and by the time she got to me, she was screaming, 'Help me! Help me! Help Me!"' she told WCVB-TV.
Rosemary Heath said she pushed the woman out of the way and grabbed the back of DaRosa's shirt.
"My husband was struggling with him to get the knife away," she said. "I think he went down low on him to get him around the elbows so he couldn't raise his arm up, and then he pulled his arm back and then stabbed my husband in the head."
George Heath later died. Savoy remained hospitalized in serious condition Wednesday.
"Mr. Heath is certainly a hero. ... He stepped up. He prevented a tragic situation from getting worse," said Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr.
Rosemary Heath said Creed — who was off-duty and at Bertucci's eating dinner — repeatedly ordered DaRosa to drop the knife.
Quinn said that when DaRosa refused, Creed fired one shot at DaRosa's abdomen, killing him and preventing "further carnage."
Quinn said DaRosa had checked himself in to Morton Hospital Monday after his sister observed him behaving erratically. He was released Tuesday morning and went on the rampage hours later.
"This appears to be an irrational series of actions," Quinn said. "It's beyond comprehension what the man did."
DaRosa's sister and father said he had claimed that the devil was trying to make him do things, the Boston Herald reported.
The sister, Kerri Devries, said her younger brother had battled depression for years.
"He told them how depressed he was and how he didn't want to live anymore and they still let him leave (the hospital)," Devries told the Herald.
Morton Hospital declined to comment on what type of treatment he received, citing patient privacy laws.
DaRosa's father said he visited his son in the hospital Monday night and was surprised when he showed up at the family's home Tuesday morning.
"He needed help, so we tried very much to help," the elder Arthur DaRosa told the newspaper. "Why did they release him this morning? That's the question. He came over to get his keys to go to work. He was good. Normal. No attitude. He was calm."
Scott Blackwell, 36, who has known the younger DaRosa since he was a child, said he was shocked because DaRosa was "a really good kid, never a troublemaker."
"I wouldn't expect him to do something like this," he said.
Lavoie reported from Boston.
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