Judge sets bail for man accused in Chappaqua deli shooting

CHAPPAQUA, New York (WABC) -- Bail was set Tuesday for a man accused in the shooting of two people at a Chappaqua deli in August.

Hengjun Chao, 49, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder.

Shots were fired in front of Lange's Little Store and Delicatessen in Chappaqua about 7 a.m. Aug. 29. New Cassel Police said at least two blasts from a shotgun left two victims wounded with buckshot; one was the intended target.

Chao lives in Tuckahoe, and was a former medical researcher and assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Chao was fired in May 2009 after an almost two-year investigation into research misconduct.

One of the injured was Dennis Charney, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who played a role in Chao's dismissal. Charney's liver was lacerated.

Chao was portrayed in court as an angry former employee hellbent on revenge. Prosecutors revealed they have surveillance footage from a parking lot across the street showing Chao watching Charney get his morning coffee on five separate occasions leading up to the shooting.

Prosecutors called Chao "obsessed."

"He was angry and he wanted retribution. And he sought him, found him, and delivered," said Christine O'Connor, Assistant District Attorney.

Chao has been held without bail since his arrest. On Tuesday, his attorney argued for bail for Chao, saying if his client wanted to kill the victim, Chao wouldn't have only fired once.

"If you're going to kill somebody you're going to fire multiple times. It's black and white," said Stewart Orden, defense attorney.

In arguing for bail, Chao's lawyer says his client remained at the scene, called 911, and gave police the keys to his car where the weapon was recovered.
But the district attorney argued that Chao is a flight risk, has ties to China, and that he was captured on surveillance stalking the doctor.

The judge set bail at $1,000,000. If he can raise it, Chao would have to surrender his passport. He will be back in court Nov. 1st.

There is also an order of protection for Charney and his family, who said nothing as they left the courthouse Tuesday.

The doctor himself was hospitalized Monday night due to the injuries he suffered in the shooting.

The deli where the shooting occurred is very popular with local residents, and is only about a mile from where former president Bill Clinton and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton live.
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.