It all started for the cops around 5:30 pm when off duty Beverly Police Officer Jason Lantych was coming out of Starbucks and was confronted by an off duty Hamilton Sargent Kenneth Nagy. Hamilton is a neighboring town of Beverly. Sargent Nagy shot the Beverly Officer in the upper leg, described by some as the groin area, let your imagination run with that? Then the search was on.
If I was home I would have been maybe 3 minutes from the scene but my wife and I had just arrived at the Hale Street Tavern, on the other side of Beverly. We were meeting our friends Cindy and Paul Chasse for dinner. Before I got out of the car I decided to take my informational pager off my belt and leave it in the car. I figured I was on a personal day off and did not want to be bothered. What a mistake that was which I stated while we were having dinner when the calls kept coming in.
Then I got my first call as we were about to be seated. It was about a shooting at a Beverly Plaza, then another call, this time describing it as a bank robbery gone badly with a cop shooting the bad guy. Wrong information, except that a cop had done the shooting. One of the calls said it was a domestic between two cops. All of us at the table were letting our imagination run wild trying to figure out how it could be a domestic shooting between two male cops. Only the interest from everyone at the table because of the Beverly location sort of saved me from ruining dinner with my distractions.
The calls, texts, Nextel chirps kept coming in (thankfully for me) in spite of the looks my wife Debbie was giving me, I had to answer them. We find it rude when people are at a restaurant and talk on the phone, but this was about a cop shooting and at that time I did not know all the details.
For the next two hours I heard from several sources including the office calling several times. When one source told me it was cop on cop I really started wondering if I could just leave? I did that once before at a restaurant many years ago and there was no conversation in the house for a few days. That was also a cop shooting many years ago.
We did get to enjoy the meal and a great dessert as I kept wondering if I would be able to work the story after dinner. One call from Susan Griffin on the desk, after the suspect had been spotted in Beverly, wondered if I could just take Debbie and go?
It wasn’t over when we left and I left my wonderful wife off at home and sped to the scene. Once I was out and listening to the radios I kept thinking about some of the BOLOS on the suspect cop, one mentioning there was a suicide note. Would he return to the scene and do a suicide by cop? I had envisioned he would pull up, drive through the crime scene tape, get out of his car with his gun out and let it happen.
Reporter Sean Kelly told me he kept thinking the suspect would return as he was doing his live shot. Photographer Tim Devlin showed up with his bulletproof vest on, but he took it off as the night wore on. Our third photographer, David Buswell-Wible also thought he might return so we were unanimous in our thoughts.
Nothing was happening, no sightings just BOLOs on the car description and mentioning he was a cop, armed, dangerous and he had left a suicide note, which we could not confirm. Any cop who heard that must have thought he did not want to be the one to grant him his wish.
Then around 10:30 as all the TV crews had either done their ten o’clock live shots or were getting ready for their eleven, I heard a Beverly cop ask for the license plate again. After it was given he said, “he just pulled in behind the shooting scene, by the Garden City Pub!”
My adrenaline went wild I was in my car and moved it about 40 yards to where I should not have been which was about 40 feet from the car. Sean who got called by the office, said it was the fastest he ever jumped out of our NewStar Truck. He looked over and saw where my car was told the desk I might be in the cop’s lap.
I rolled down the car windows so when I got out hugging the car for protection I would be able to hear what the cops were saying from the radio traffic on my scanners. My phone rang several times from people listening to their scanners and I kept picking it up and hanging it up till I finally yelled, “leave me alone!” I had enough to do just trying to stay safe and be there for the finish.
It was chaotic as cops with their guns drawn circled the area and at first glance they did not see anyone in the car. More cops, more guns and cops screaming at me to get out from where I was. State Police had at Ieast ten heavily armed troopers in the back within seconds.
I got back in my car hoping no one would see me, shooting video through the window, as the perimeter got tighter. At one point he was thought to be on the railroad tracks, which backed up to where his car was. So they widened their search while I kept trying to keep up with everything going on. If there was to be a shootout I wanted it in my video.
I was so excited and yet tried to maintain some sort of calmness, keeping my camera running even when I was not shooting a specific scene. If there were gunshots going off I needed to hear them on my tape. I kept getting yelled at by cops and kept moving my position, thinking what am I nuts, I could be in the line of fire or worst yet in his line of fire. You know if he shot a cop, a newsman would be no problem!
Then it ended less than ten minutes later as someone took a closer look in the car. State Police said he was on a “Code Four,” which means dead. From the video I saw of the victim it appeared he put the driver’s seat back and pulled the trigger. Thankfully all we could see on Tim’s tape was his hands by his side sitting in the car as his upper torso was out of sight.
What a night and one I will not be forgetting anytime soon.