PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) " An off-duty sheriff's deputy and others who helped end a stabbing rampage at a mall say they've grown close since the deadly May attack.
Plymouth County Deputy Sheriff James Creed, his wife, Laura Creed, and the widow of one of the victims spoke publicly Thursday for the first time about the rampage.
Prosecutors determined Wednesday that James Creed was justified in shooting Arthur DaRosa to death after he burst into the Silver City Galleria Mall in Taunton and began stabbing people in a Bertucci's restaurant.
Police say DaRosa injured a waitress and killed 56-year-old teacher George Heath at the mall. He fatally stabbed an 80-year-old woman in her home earlier that night.
Creed says he shot DaRosa, who had been dealing with mental health issues and had been recently released from a hospital, when he charged at him and refused to drop the knife.
Creed said it was his first time discharging his weapon in response to a police incident, the Taunton Daily Gazette reports.
"You don't really have time to think too much," he said Thursday. "Your body just kind of takes over and you just start doing what you were trained to do."
His wife, Laura, said her training as a nurse automatically kicked in as she helped tend to the injured waitress and Heath.
Creed, a K-9 officer, says he's named his new service dog Heath in honor of the teacher credited with intervening early on in the attack.
"George selflessly intervened within seconds, without even knowing what was going on," Creed said, according to the Taunton Daily Gazette. "Without George, things would have been very much worse."
Heath's wife, Rosemary, said Thursday that she would not be alive if not for Creed, who was having dinner with his wife at the time.
"He says he's not a hero, but he is," Heath said, according to the Taunton Daily Gazette. "I'm so thankful for the two of them. I get up every day and he's the second person I think of. The first one is George."
The Creeds and Heath said they've found emotional support in one another, sharing meals and coffee and spending time together.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings