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Man Found Guilty On All Counts In Westchester Deli Shooting

Hengjun Chao
Hengjun Chao Photo Credit: Westchester County District Attorney's Office
Hengjun Chao
Hengjun Chao Photo Credit: File photo

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - The Tuckahoe man accused of shooting his former boss outside a popular Chappaqua deli has been convicted of attempted murder.

On Tuesday, a jury took approximately an hour to determine that 50-year-old Hengjun Chao, who was accused of shooting Dr. Dennis Charney with a shotgun outside of Lange’s Deli, was guilty of all charges following a trial at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains.

On the morning of Aug. 26 last year, Charney, the dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and at least one other person were struck by buckshot outside of the deli, allegedly from a shotgun wielded by Chao, who was arrested at the scene by New Castle Police.

During his trial, Chao insisted that he never meant to hit or kill Charney, he was interested in protesting against an antidepressant that he believed increased the chance of suicide for teenagers.

Chao was found guilty of one count of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree criminal use of a firearm and first-degree assault, all felonies. He pleaded not guilty to the charges last October.

"When the victim left the deli, the defendant retrieved a loaded shotgun from the trunk of his car," the district attorney's office alleged in a statement released following Chao’s arrest. "He walked towards the victim, took aim and fired one shot, hitting him in the shoulder and chest area. The defendant remained there and was subsequently arrested by New Castle Police officers.”

Charney was reportedly on a committee that played a part in Chao losing his research job at the school in 2009 following an investigation into potential data fraud. Chao went on to unsuccessfully sue Mount Sinai and Charney in federal court before his alleged involvement in the shooting.

Following the shooting, Charney was hospitalized for five days, where he was treated for his injuries. A second person in the vicinity of the incident, who was not a target, was also suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Chao remains remanded to the Westchester County Jail. He is due to be sentenced in August, when he will face a maximum of 25 years in state prison.

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