Hengjun Chao speaks to his lawyer during his arraignment in Court, Monday
Two people were shot outside a deli in Chappaqua , about a mile from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s home , by a former hospital worker who opened fire with a shotgun Monday, police said.
Hengjun Chao, 49
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, of Tuckahoe, fired a buckshot round at the men outside Lange’s Little Store & Delicatessen on King St. shortly before 7 a.m., New Castle Police Department Chief Charles Ferry said. Emergency responders rushed both victims to Westchester Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
One of the men was Chao’s former boss, Dr. Dennis Charney, the dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, officials said. The second victim was standing behind Charney at the time, a court official said Monday. Chao, a researcher, was fired from the Mount Sinai Medical Center on Nov. 19, 2009, but filed a lawsuit against the hospital about five months later. He claimed he was unfairly targeted by an internal review and fired after he questioned the results of another researcher.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo at the Memorial Day parade in the Clinton’s home town of Chappaqua, New York, May, 2016. The shooting occured a mile from the Clinton home.
Former President Bill Clinton chats outside Lange’s Little Store and Delicatessen with daughter Chelsea (second from right) during a coffee run in Chappaqua, New York 21 January 2001.
Police Chief Ferry said “We are still looking into the possibility that [the motive] was an employee action that may have taken place sometime in the past”.
Two shotgun blasts in an attempted revenge killing outside a Chappaqua deli Monday likely stemmed from the alleged shooter, Hengjun Chao, losing a high-profile lawsuit to his target and former boss, Dr. Dennis Charney, the dean of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
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Chao is accused of opening fire outside Lange’s Little Store & Delicatessen at 7 a.m., injuring two men including Charney, police said. Charney fired in 2010, court records show.
Target: Dr. Dennis Charney (center) with daughter Allison Charney, and his wife Andrea Charney at the Mount Sinai Health System Crystal Party May, 2016
Ferry added that it appeared only one of the victims was targeted while the other may have been an innocent bystander. Chao was arrested at the scene where several bullet holes from the buckshot blast could be seen in the deli’s door, and remanded at Westchester County jail until his next court date Sept., 7. New Castle Judge Noah Sorkin ordered Chao held without bail on attempted murder charges Monday. He faces an attempted murder charge.
Charney was treated at an area hospital for non life-threatening injuries Monday evening. The other unidentified shooting victim was treated for injuries and released.
Former assistant professor of medicine at Mt. Sinai, Henguin Chao, charged with second-degree attempted murder
Town of New Castle Police Chief, Charles Ferry – ‘the shooting in front Lange’s Deli in Chappaquamay have had a revenge motive’
After being fired for research misconduct, Chao lost a federal lawsuit against the Manhattan-based medical school, co-workers and administrators, including Charney, court records show.
Chao contended he tried to blow the whistle on a colleague for falsifying medical research, but ended up being fired as retaliation, court records show.
Court records show that Chao accused Mt. Sinai and administrators of wrongful termination, defamation and discrimination. The lawsuit was seeking at least $171,500 in lost wages and potentially millions of dollars more in other damages.
The medical school launched an investigation of Chao after he accused the colleague of wrongdoing. School investigators contended Chao falsified his own research and he was fired because of the findings, court records show.
Chao contended he was fired in part because of his Chinese heritage. He was born in China, and graduated from Hunan Medical University and Peking Union Medical College before coming to the United States in 1997, court records show.
He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1997 to 2002, when he was hired by Mt. Sinai as a researcher, court records show.
Court documents described Chao’s firing as the culmination of a heated battle between Mt. Sinai professors in the high-stakes world of medical research.
The medical school’s internal investigation of Chao’s accusations resulted in thousands of pages of testimony by doctors, administrators and lab staff, court records show, and the investigation report concluded that Chao manipulated medical research data.
Chao, who researched blood diseases and cancer, cited his colleagues’ testimony as the reason for the defamation and discrimination claims in the lawsuit. He noted one colleague described him as authoritative because of his Chinese background and “cultural” differences, and others called him remarkably ignorant and sloppy to ruin his reputation, court records show.
A federal judge sided with Mt. Sinai and the decision was upheld by an appellate court in 2012, records show.
Still, the court records provided a glimpse into Chao’s rise-and-fall at one of the most prestigious medical research programs in the nation.
Prior to being fired, Chao noted he received several pay raises at Mt. Sinai. From 2007 to 2009, his salary jumped from $115,000 to $142,000. He was paid $180,000 in salary and other benefits before getting fired, court records show.
In 2007, Mt. Sinai renewed its contract with Chao for another four years, court records show, and he also received millions of dollars in research grants and had work published in scientific journals.
Mt. Sinai President and CEO Kenneth Davis described the medical school and affiliated health system as shocked by the shooting. He said Chao was a former employee, an assistant professor, terminated for cause in 2010.
“This is an extremely disturbing event,” Davis said. “I am speaking on behalf of the Mount Sinai community in extending our best wishes to Dr. Charney and his family.”
The shooting turned the normally quite area, located about a mile from the home of Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, into a chaotic scene on the street, near 382 King St., outside of Lange’s Deli.
“It was possibly anger towards one of the victims,” New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry said, “…because of a past employment issue. I think he came there with the intent of shooting someone.
“People in the deli saw it happen,” Ferry said.
When officers arrived they found the two victims with buckshot gunshot wounds and also the suspect, Ferry said. Chao was no longer in possession of the gun when officers arrived, Ferry said. The gun was found in a vehicle’s trunk. The chief said Chao is being cooperative with authorities.