Essex DA says investigators will examine relationship between wounded Beverly officer and Hamilton officer’s wife

NEWBURYPORT—Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said yesterday that investigators probing the shooting of a Beverly police officer are exploring the relationship between the victim and the alleged gunman’s wife, who had known each other for a number of years.

“They were friends, have known each other for a number of years, and that is something that we are looking at,” Blodgett said. “They had a professional relationship, based upon their working domestic violence cases.”

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Authorities say Hamilton Police Officer Kenneth Nagy shot Beverly Police Officer Jason Lantych in the leg and wrist outside a shopping plaza Friday night, then took his own life a few hours later. Prosecutors have said the two men knew each other and agreed to meet. They have also said Nagy’s widow, Katherine, has worked as a domestic violence advocate at the Beverly police.

Blodgett’s comments, made during a press conference in Newburyport on a domestic violence study, marked the first time investigators have provided details about the connection between the two colleagues, a source of widespread speculation in the two North Shore towns.

Nagy, 43, had two young children. Lantych, 35, is single. The Beverly officer is recovering from his wounds at Beverly Hospital.

Blodgett said his office was “investigating this to the full extent that we possibly can,” and said the findings would be made public.

“This is Day Four since this has happened, but we’ll do a thorough, complete, professional investigation and make our findings known as soon as that is done,” he said.

Blodgett said authorities have conducted numerous interviews and are awaiting the results of ballistics tests to determine whether Nagy shot Lantych—and himself—with his department-issued weapon.

Beverly Police Officer David Costa, a department spokesman, said Lantych was “doing good.”

Costa said he had not seen Lantych yesterday, but when he saw him Monday he was able to move his hand and his leg. “It’s a good sign but he really has a long way to go,” Costa said.

He said Lantych “seemed a little out of it yesterday,” noting that Lantych is still on medication. “He looks like somebody who has been through a lot.”

“There’s a lot of speculation out there about what happened. We want people to know Jason Lantych is a good officer. He has no record of discipline. People speculating kind of make him look bad. He’s not a bad guy,” Costa said.

Meanwhile, an obituary describing Sergeant Nagy’s career was posted on a Salem funeral home’s website Monday night.

Kenneth Nagy Jr. was a devoted husband and father and a compassionate law enforcement officer who helped victims of sexual assault in the North Shore town where he worked, according to the obituary.

The Murphy Funeral Home in Salem said a funeral Mass for Nagy would be held at St. James Church in Salem Friday morning. Visiting hours are Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Burial will be private.

Nagy grew up in New York State and came to Massachusetts to attend Northeastern University where he obtained a degree in criminal justice. He held a criminal justice master’s degree from Western New England College, according to the obituary.

He served for 19 years on the Hamilton police and was recently promoted to sergeant and was given command of the night shift on the 12-member force.

“His work as a law enforcement officer gave him purpose, meaning, and fulfillment that were evident to anyone who knew him,’’ the unsigned obituary states. “He worked with sexual assault victims, and left his footprint on the hearts of countless Hamilton residents. To those in need or despair, Ken was a source of comfort ... and was always able to maintain a compassionate professionalism throughout his interactions.’’

Nagy leaves his two sons, ages 5 and 7. He and his wife were both devoted to their children and a family life together, the obituary stated. Nagy worked the night shift so he could be at home for his sons while his wife worked as a domestic violence advocate at the Beverly department during the day.

“Ken and Katie loved to see new places and were more than excited to be able to share that with their children. They enjoyed taking annual trips up New Hampshire, looked forward to summer trips down the Cape and even enjoyed a family trip to Disney World and a vacation in Aruba with extended family, grandparents, and a great-grandmother,’’ the obituary stated.

Nagy also was patriotic and made a trip with one of his sons to the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington Green, hoping to pass on his love of country to his children.

“He passed on a love of country ... respect for mankind, unconditional love, and a very quirky sense of humor. Anyone who knew Ken could tell you that his unique sense of humor could break even the thickest of ices and get a chuckle from anyone within earshot. He liked to lighten the mood and make people feel at ease,’’ the obituary said.

Nagy was described as self-taught “techie’’ who helped others deal with electronic devices, ranging from computers to home stereo systems, and as someone who would help people choose which car to buy through extensive research.

“Ken was imaginative and a creative thinker, he was ambitious and dedicated and loved by those who knew him best. His absence will be a void that can never be filled but his memory and honor will live on in the lives of his sons, who carry all the best qualities of their father and, as they grow, will no doubt make him insurmountably proud,’’ the obituary said.

In addition to his wife and sons, Nagy leaves his parents and six siblings.