Dennis Charney: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

dennis charney

Dennis Charney. (Mount Sinai Medical Center)

The dean of the Mount Sinai medical school, who is a world expert in neurobiology, was shot outside a well-known Chappaqua, New York deli that is Hillary and Bill Clinton’s favorite “neighborhood spot.”

Dennis Charney, who was hospitalized from the shooting but survived it, was targeted by a former subordinate, who used to be a researcher for Charney, said police. A bystander was also shot in the shooting, which left the deli riddled with buckshot, but the bystander is also expected to survive, according to police.

Hengjun Chao, 49, of Tuckahoe, New York, was charged August 29 with second-degree attempted murder in the shooting that occurred outside Lange’s Little Store & Delicatessen on King St in downtown Chappaqua, New York. The Clintons live less than a mile from the deli.

Hillary Clinton wrote of the deli that it is “Bill’s and my favorite neighborhood spot. The only thing better than the coffee and sandwiches is getting to catch up with all the friends who drift in and out all day long.”

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Charney Is an International Expert in Neurobiology & Mood & Anxiety Disorders

According to the medical school’s website, Charney is “an internationally acclaimed expert in the neurobiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.” The medical school adds that Charney “has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the causes of human anxiety, fear, and depression, and to the discovery of new treatments for mood and anxiety disorders.”

The website says Charney is the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs for the Mount Sinai Health System.

“This is an extremely disturbing event,” Kenneth Davis, chief executive of Mount Sinai Health System, told The Wall Street Journal. “Fortunately, Dr. Charney’s injuries are not life-threatening and we expect he will fully recover.”

2. The Accused Shooter Was a Researcher at the Medical School Who Had Been Fired, Reports Say

The motive could be anger and revenge over a past “employment action possibly,” said Town of New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry in a news conference. He said Charney was a resident of Chappaqua.

“I think he (the suspect) came up here intent on shooting someone,” said Ferry. He said the accused shooter and Charney had a supervisor/subordinate relationship about nine years ago, with Charney as the supervisor. Ferry – who did not release Charney’s name in the initial news conference – said he did not know what the accused shooter does now for employment, although he was perhaps a doctor or researcher.

According to The Yonkers Daily Voice, the suspect, a Chinese immigrant, is a former assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The chief said he was not aware of a prior record for the suspect.

The New York Daily News says Chao was fired from the Mount Sinai Medical Center in 2009 “but filed a lawsuit against the hospital about five months later. He claimed he was unfairly targeted by an internal review and fired after he questioned the results of another researcher.”

The Daily Voice said Chao was “fired for alleged manipulation of research data, which he claimed was due to a biased disciplinary process.” Charney testified before a faculty disciplinary tribunal, “telling the body that Chao ‘omitted data points when excluding those points were to his benefit'” and allegedly said “Chao acted in an inappropriately authoritative manner in his laboratory,” said the Daily Voice. The newspaper added that Chao denied the allegations, but his suit was dismissed.

3. Charney Is Described as a ‘Prolific Author’ Who Was a Professor at Yale & the Deli Where He Was Shot Is Frequented by the Clintons

chappaqua, lange's little store & delicatessan

Former President Bill Clinton chats outside Lange’s Little Store and Delicatessen along with daughter Chelsea (second from right) during a coffee run in Chappaqua, New York 21 January 2001. Clinton made the trip during his first full day as a private citizen following eight years in office. (Getty)

CBS News says the deli is located less than a mile from the New York home of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton has been photographed at it. The Clintons bought the $1.7 million, 11-room Dutch Colonial home in 1999.

Charney’s distinguished career “began in 1981 at Yale, where, within nine years, he rose from Assistant Professor to Professor of Psychiatry, a position he held from 1990 to 2000,” said the Mount Sinai website biography for him.

“While there, he chaired the NIMH Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises the institute’s director on intramural research programs,” the bio says.

In 2000, “NIMH recruited Dr. Charney to lead the Mood and Anxiety Disorder Research Program — one of the largest programs of its kind in the world —and the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch,” says the bio.

He has written more than 700 publications, including those described as “ground-breaking,” says the site.

4. The Shooting Occurred Outside the Deli & Another Person Was Also Shot

Lange's little store & delicatessan

Lange’s Little Store & Delicatessan. (Facebook/Lange’s)

The Journal News said the shooting occurred on the street early in the morning of August 29, in full view of some patrons inside the deli.

New Castle police responded at about 7 a.m. When they arrived at the scene, they found two victims with gunshot wounds, and the suspect was still on the scene and was taken into custody, according to Ferry’s news conference.

Both of the victims were taken to the hospital and are expected to survive, police said in the news conference.

5. Charney Is Married to His High School Sweetheart & Has Five Children

dennis charney

(L-R) Allison Charney, Dr. Dennis Charney and his wife Andrea Charney attend the Mount Sinai Health System 2016 Crystal Party on May 5, 2016 in New York City. (Getty)

In a 2003 interview with Andrea Tone, Charney said, “I met my wife when she was 14 and I was 16, so we were high school sweethearts, and that was it. You know, believe it or not, we didn’t date anybody after that, since she was 14 and I was 16, and that’s been a great relationship. We have been married now almost 32 years. We have five kids.” His wife is also named Andrea.

In the interview, he also said he was born in New York to an engineer father and guidance counselor secretary mother.

Police said the weapon was a shotgun, and buckshot was also used. One victim was the intended target, now believed to be Charney, and the other person was a bystander, police said in the news conference.

Several rounds of buckshot went into the windows of the deli, police said. The shotgun was found in the trunk of the car, Ferry said in the news conference, and the suspect was arrested at the scene.