New Jersey

Nurse Sets Staffer on Fire at NJ Hospital, Later Found Dead

The victim is in stable condition with severe burns

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A contract nurse at a New Jersey hospital set another staffer on fire in a break room Monday before taking his own life -- and neighbors say they'd been increasingly fearful of the nurse's erratic behavior.

Hackensack Meridian Health said in a statement Monday that a "contracted agency nurse," later identified as Nicholas Pagano, entered a room at Hackensack University Medical Center and "allegedly set the team member on fire." Pagano also allegedly struck the woman with a wrench as well.

Sources familiar with the investigation told WNBC that the weapon appeared to possibly be a culinary torch.

A nurse working at a New Jersey hospital was set on fire by a staffer, who may have used a culinary torch, and suffered third-degree burns. NBC New York's Gaby Acevedo reports.

The hospital said there were no witnesses and police did not have a motive for the attack.

Pagano, 31, of West Deptford, who cleared a background check and had been working at the facility since November, fled the hospital and drove off. He was found dead by apparent suicide in Waterford Township early Tuesday morning, the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office said.

His neighbors told WCAU that Pagano had been acting erratically of late, running around in a bathrobe, cursing and screaming, doing karate in their parking lot and talking to himself.

The burned female staffer, who the sources said was a patient care technician, was transferred to another hospital for treatment. Sources indicated the 54-year-old was in stable condition with severe burns to her face, upper body and hands, as well as a cut to her head that required stitches.

Prosecutors described her injuries as third-degree burns.

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