By Noah Cohen
A travel nurse is wanted on an attempted murder charge for allegedly attacking a coworker with a wrench and setting her on fire Monday morning at Hackensack University Medical Center in Bergen County, officials said.
Nicholas Pagano, 31, of West Deptford, also faces charges of aggravated arson, aggravated assault and unlawful weapons possession, according to Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella.
Police were called to an assault at Hackensack University Medical Center around 5:15 a.m. and found a 54-year-old hospital staffer was attacked and burned in a break room, Musella said in a statement.
The injured employee suffered third-degree burns over her upper body, face and hands, and had a cut to her head that required stitches, according to the prosecutor. Pagano, authorities said, fled following the attack and remained at large as of Monday night.
Pagano “should be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached by members of the public,” Musella said.
The victim was treated in the Hackensack emergency room, and then moved to another hospital for treatment, according to officials. Her condition was not released.
There were no witnesses to the attack and a possible motive was unclear, a hospital spokesman previously told NJ Advance Media. The facility increased security Monday.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. Hackensack Meridian Health strongly condemns any act of violence,” spokesman Ben Goldstein said.
Travel nurses work for third-party contracting agencies, and are hired by local hospitals to fill staffing shortages. The accused attacker nurse had undergone a full screening prior to starting at the medical center in mid-November, according to Goldstein.
The prosecutor said Pagano was believed to be driving a 1998 white Jeep Grand Cherokee with black roof racks and New Jersey license plate of S57 NJH.
Anyone with information was urged to call the Hackensack Police Department at 201-646-7777.
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