A man has been charged with kidnapping a Norwalk Hospital doctor and holding him captive for a week.
The motive is unclear, but lawyers say that people of all professions, including physicians, should be vigilant about personal safety.
In what may have been a freak incident this July, a Norwalk Hospital doctor was allegedly kidnapped and held for a week until his captor released him because the doctor had to go back to work or people would start searching for him. According to The Hour, reports suggest that the kidnapper, Anthony E. Benjamin, threatened the doctor multiple times and forced him to withdraw money from his bank account. Benjamin was assisted by a man named Steve Daley.
Benjamin and Daley are now charged with crimes—Benjamin with second-degree kidnapping and possession of a controlled substance and Daley with conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping—but are not held in jail. Benjamin was released with a promise to appear after his lawyer argued that there was not enough evidence supporting a kidnapping claim. Daley was also released on a promise to appear. Benjamin and Daley are scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Stamford, CT, on September 19, according to The Hour. The men’s motives are unclear.
New York attorney Min Hwan Ahn says that while “incidents like this are not common, the medical profession, like any other, can be subject to random acts of violence or crime.”
Where motives are clear, they can vary widely, ranging “from personal grudges to dissatisfaction with medical treatment”—though it would be a stretch to make those connections in this case, Hwan Ahn adds.
“However, it's important to note that such incidents are not the norm, and most interactions between doctors and patients or the general public are peaceful and respectful,” says Hwan Ahn.
Hwan Ahn adds that, based on the details of the Norwalk kidnapping, the motive does not appear to be a targeted attack related to the doctor’s occupation; rather, it appears to be more of “a random act of crime.”
The doctor was taken from the Brooklyn Mirage concert venue, not his place of work.
Staying safe in risky scenarios
It’s impossible to steer clear of every risky scenario, especially if you don’t see it coming. Still, taking care of yourself in and out of any workplace requires being vigilant about personal safety.
Some personal safety tips to keep in mind include:
Not sharing personal information with strangers or patients.
Being aware of your surroundings.
Reporting threats or suspicious behavior to the authorities.
In the Norwalk incident, “the doctor's claim that he needed to meet with a patient might have worked because it created a sense of urgency and implied that his absence would be noticed quickly, which could lead to the captor being apprehended,” Min Hwan Ahn says. “It was a smart move that likely played a significant role in his release.”
In any hostage or kidnapping-type situation, he says that sometimes the best course of action can be cooperating with the captor while keeping an eye out for a safe opportunity to escape, seek help, and alert the authorities. Some hospitals, schools, and local governments provide hostage or barricade incident planning guides to help institutions navigate kidnapping-type situations.
They offer similar guidelines for staying calm and cooperating with captors while emphasizing not attempting to escape if it appears too risky. In Stanford University’s emergency response guidelines for hostage situations, the university says that it can be helpful to try to memorize physical traits of the captor(s) so that you can best describe them to the authorities when help arrives. Stanford also recommends establishing some relationship with the captor(s) so that you are considered a person and not an object.
What this means for you
A man has been charged with kidnapping a Norwalk Hospital doctor this summer. While the motive is unclear, lawyers say that staying vigilant about personal safety is important for people in all professions.