TAUNTON (CBS) — One of the two people killed in the deadly stabbing rampage Tuesday night in Taunton was a teacher and husband described as sweet, caring, funny, and devoted to his students.
After the suspect in the stabbing spree crashed his car into a Macy’s at the Silver City Galleria mall Tuesday night, police said he made his way into a Bertucci’s restaurant, where he stabbed George Heath, 56, of Taunton.
George’s wife of 14 years, Rosemary, said the couple had just sat down to dinner and hadn’t even taken a sip of their drinks yet when the suspect came in and attacked a pregnant waitress, later identified as Sheenah Savoy.
Police identified the suspect in the attacks as Arthur DaRosa, 28, of Taunton.
Heath was bring praised Wednesday for helping save Savoy’s life. At a press conference Wednesday, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said Heath’s actions, along with those of the off-duty Plymouth County deputy sheriff who shot the suspect, were “the only bright spots in this terrible incident.”
“He was eating dinner with his wife as any of us could have been doing,” said Quinn. “He saw the waitress being stabbed, and without concern for his safety he intervened and quite possibly saved her life and the lives of others, including his own wife. This shows extraordinary character and courage that tragically cost him his own life.”
Quinn added that his wife was a good friend of Heath, and that she said she was not surprised that he was helping to save others, “because that’s the type of man he was.”
“He should be commended, and he will always be remembered for his heroic actions,” Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye said at the press conference.
Rosemary Heath described her husband’s actions during the attack.
“We were sitting at the bar, and we heard a scream,” Rosemary told WBZ-TV’s Nicole Jacobs. “We turned around, and … we realized she was being stabbed.”
Rosemary described pushing the woman away from the suspect, then blocking him with a chair. She said her husband struggled with the man, then grabbed him around the waist and tried to hold his arms down so he wouldn’t be able to go after others. That’s when she says the suspect stabbed George in the head.
“He was just laying there, he couldn’t even talk,” said Rosemary. “I didn’t care what happened around me or near me or anything else, I just wanted my husband to be okay.”
She said an off-duty officer, later identified as Plymouth County deputy sheriff James Creed, repeatedly told the suspect to drop the knife, and shot him when he didn’t.
“I would have been next,” Rosemary said. “If he didn’t shoot him, I would be dead.”
On Wednesday morning, she said the shock of losing her husband was still fresh–but that she wanted people to know what a wonderful and happy man he was, and was choosing to remember the way he lived rather than the way he died.
“He was a hero,” she said. “He was my hero … he was just the light of my life.”
She said he enjoyed windsurfing, and walking the couple’s three dogs every day. She said “everyone loved him,” and that he still had friends he made when he was five years old. He had two adult children.
“I lost a good man, he was a great man,” she said. “He was a happy man, we were so happy. It was probably the happiest we’ve ever been … We laughed more with each other–at each other–than any normal couple would.”
Rosemary remembered her husband in a Facebook post Wednesday morning.
“My sweet, caring, adorable, funny, love of my life was stabbed at the Taunton mall last night,” wrote Rosemary Heath. “His wound was too extensive and he died. He LOVED his job, his STUDENTS, his LIFELONG friends and his FAMILY.”
George was a visual design instructor at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, where he had taught students for the last four years. The school’s superintendent, Edward O’Brien, told WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano that he would be greatly missed.
“He was a professional at his craft, and he yearned to teach the kids the love and creativity of visual design,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said students learned of their teacher’s death when they arrived at the school Wednesday morning, as it had not yet been out on social media.
“Mr. Heath was a tremendous educator with a great passion for teaching,” the school said in a statement. “He was influential in sparking creativity and a love of learning in all of his students.”
Rosemary wanted George’s students to know how much he cared about them.
“Every one of you, understand that, he loved you,” Rosemary said. “Go have good careers, stay in school, be smart. That’s what he would love.”