DA: Deputy sheriff justified in shooting Taunton rampage suspect

Photo: Plymouth County Sheriff's Department
Photo: Plymouth County Sheriff's Department

TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — A sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a man engaged in a violent crime spree in Taunton earlier this year was justified in doing so, the Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III announced Wednesday in a final report on the tragic events.

Plymouth County Dept. Sheriff James Creed was having dinner with his wife at the Silver City Galleria on May 10 when Arthur DaRosa burst into the Bertucci’s restaurant, armed himself with a steak knife and started attacking a waitress, according to the DA’s report. He then stabbed a killed a patron who was trying to intervene. It was his second murder of the night, having just killed an 80-year-old woman on nearby Myricks street.

Upon hearing the commotion at Bertucci’s, Creed – who was off-duty and in civilian clothes – displayed his badge, identified himself, and told DaRosa multiple times to drop the knife. When he refused to comply, the DA’s office said Creed used his personal firearm to shoot DaRosa once in the abdomen.

Creed then began rendering aid to DaRosa and his victims, police said.

One of the victims, 56-year-old George Heath, was stabbed in the head while trying to stop the attack. He and DaRosa both died from their injuries at the hospital. No drugs or alcohol were found in DaRosa’s system, according to the Medical Examiner.

The waitress, Sheenah Savoy, who was pregnant at the time of the attack, survived her injuries.

Timeline: How the Taunton stabbing rampage unfolded »
Timeline: How the Taunton stabbing rampage unfolded »

DA Quinn’s office investigated the incident and found that Creed was both “justified and lawful” in his use of deadly force against DaRosa, according to the report released Wednesday.

“He reacted in a professional but heroic manner by taking the only course of conduct that was available to him at that time,” DA Quinn had previously said following the incident. “He prevented further carnage from occurring by his actions.”

The new report also provides a chronological account of what happened that evening, in a spree that began on Myricks Street when DaRosa crashed his car after leaving his daughter’s soccer practice nearby.

DaRosa gained access to a home and stabbed two women inside using a knife from the kitchen. Patricia Slavin, 80, was later pronounced dead at Morton Hospital while 48-year-old Kathleen Slavin survived her injuries. The report says police never recovered the murder weapon.

After stabbing the two women, police said DaRosa drove to the mall, crashed into the front of Macy’s and assaulted several people inside the department store before making his way to Bertucci’s.

The DA’s investigation found DaRosa murdered Slavin and Heath “without any justification or excuse.”

The investigators also interviewed medical professionals and others who encountered DaRosa prior to the rampage, and learned that he had threatened suicide the day before the stabbing spree. He had been suffering from depression following a breakup with his girlfriend, who is also the mother of his children. When he was admitted to the hospital, however, the report says he “denied wanting to hurt or kill himself because he had two children to live for.”

He was discharged from the hospital at 6:36 a.m. on May 10, the report found. Almost exactly twelve hours later, at 6:35 p.m., he left the soccer field to begin the horrific spree.