Guard hailed as a hero

MGH doctor recovering from attack

By Peter Schworm and Stephanie Ebbert
Globe Staff / October 29, 2009

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READING - A few days ago, he was an anonymous security guard with a driving ambition to become a police officer. Yesterday, as authorities intensified their investigation into his actions, Paul Langone was cast as the hero in the frantic stabbing Tuesday at a Massachusetts General Hospital clinic, the lone figure who came to the doctor’s aid and perhaps saved her life.

The Suffolk district attorney’s office sent signals yesterday that its investigation has so far determined there was no wrongdoing on the part of Langone when he shot and killed a patient who was stabbing a psychiatrist at a hospital clinic for treatment of bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition that can include dramatic swings between mania and depression.

“It’s standard procedure to determine whether charges are warranted in any fatal shooting, whether it be by a police officer or a civilian,’’ said Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. Authorities said they expect preliminary autopsy results today.

Langone, a 33-year-old former Golden Gloves boxer who consistently beat much larger opponents, burst into a clinic room Tuesday afternoon after hearing screams, authorities have said. He found 37-year-old Jay Carciero, who had long struggled with mental illness, repeatedly stabbing his therapist, Astrid Desrosiers. After Carciero ignored Langone’s order to drop his weapon, Langone fired, authorities said.

Authorities have not officially identified Langone as the shooter, but he is being widely heralded for coming to the rescue of Desrosiers, seemingly without a moment’s hesitation as other people in the building fled.

Desrosiers, a 49-year-old psychiatrist known for her work with the Haitian community, is “on her way to recovery,’’ her husband said yesterday, but authorities have not been able to interview her because of her injuries. Conley described the incident as a “chaotic scene with dozens and dozens of witnesses’’ and said that investigators would need time to assemble all the facts.

Langone’s father, Paul F. Langone, described his son as a well-trained special officer - a designation given to security guards who are licensed by Boston police but work for private companies - who dreamed of becoming a Boston police officer. He was the kind of person who would always stop to help someone on the side of the road, his father said.

“He loves this kind of work,’’ the father said in brief remarks to reporters outside his Reading home. “But what happened is a one-in-a million situation yesterday, and in my point of view he couldn’t have been more correct. . . . I think the actions of what he did, coming to the aid of the woman, speak to his character.’’

Paul Langone said that his son was inside the beige two-story house, but that authorities had instructed the younger Langone to refrain from speaking to reporters.

Authorities said Langone did not work at the clinic, and the senior Langone declined to say why his son was there. The Bipolar Clinic & Research Program shares the fifth floor of a high-rise Staniford Street building with other hospital, dental, and medical research offices.

Those who know Langone described him as a kind spirit and a determined, accomplished athlete.

As a competitive lightweight boxer in the early 1990s, Langone consistently felled far brawnier opponents, cutting them down to size with his trademark left hook, said his former coach, Denis Murphy.

Once, trailing badly on the scorecard and needing a knockout to win, he stole the fight with a final-round flurry so ferocious it left Murphy shaking his head in disbelief.

“He fought like a street fighter,’’ he said. “He wanted to knock everyone out.’’

Yet Langone had a reserved, unfailingly helpful personality that belied his intensity in the ring, friends and co-workers said.

“He’s one of those people that everybody liked,’’ said Chris Spadea, the manager at Ned Devine’s, a Quincy Market bar where Langone worked. “He’s just a respectable guy, a great guy.’’

It was Langone’s easy way with people, not his physical strength, that distinguished him on the job, Spadea said.

“For the most part, we relied on him to defuse the situation,’’ Spadea said. “That’s what he was good at. He knew how to talk to people, and that’s what makes this a tragedy.’’

Two years ago, Langone spent the summer working as a summer officer for the Provincetown Police Department, Chief Jeff Jaran said. He left in good standing. Summer police officers have the power to make arrests and are assigned duty weapons after completing training.

Mike Knox, owner of MK Boxing in Woburn, said Langone worked as a coach at the gym in 2006 and 2007 and trained there until the past year. Knox said he was sad to have lost Langone, describing him as a skilled boxer and devoted teacher.

“In the ring, he was poetry in motion,’’ Knox said. “He’s a mellow, friendly guy, very well liked.’’

Meanwhile, Desrosiers’ husband, who requested that his name not be published, said his wife was “a great person’’ who is loved by her patients and the Haitian community.

“She is such a nice person, and many, many people are calling and visiting, so that says something about her,’’ he said from the family’s home in Belmont. “It’s unfortunate that something like this happened, and I’m still in shock. But she is on her way to recovery.’’

Jerry Rosenbaum, chief of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Desrosiers came to MGH in 2005 with a “determination to be a real expert.’’

“She is the heart and soul of the clinical care part of our program,’’ Rosenbaum said, adding that the program took on more challenging bipolar cases involving patients who had previously sought care at other hospitals or clinics but whose treatment was unsuccessful.

“We’re sort of the place of last resort for challenging patients, when other places typically cannot help,’’ he said.

Hospital officials said yesterday that they were working closely with Boston police and others “to ensure we are doing everything possible to minimize the risk to patients and staff.’’

Carciero had worked at the Lahey Clinic as a manager of food and facilities for Sodexo, an international food management company. Several years ago, he and his brother reported an alleged kickback scheme in which the company was changing prices to get higher rebates from vendors. Federal agencies investigated, and Carciero was considered a key witness in the whistleblower case.

Carciero’s lawyer said he had no history of violence.

Maria Cramer, Milton Valencia, Brian Ballou, Jonathan Saltzman of the Globe staff contrubuted to this report.