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St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center resident dies after assault at facility

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OGDENSBURG — City police are investigating a patient-on-patient assault that resulted in the death of a man at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center on Monday.

Police said in a news release Thursday that the victim, Robert D. Harrienger II, 58, was assaulted about 6 p.m. Monday at the center’s Trinity Building. He died of his injuries Tuesday, according to the state Office of Mental Health.

Police said they have identified a person of interest in the case, and are determining potential charges with the St. Lawrence County district attorney’s office.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and further details are not being released at this time. Office of Mental Health spokesman Benjamin Rosen said in an email that because of federal and state health information privacy laws, the office is prohibited from sharing information that might lead to disclosure of someone’s protected health information.

Mr. Harrienger’s obituary said he died at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse.

“Patient safety is the Office of Mental Health’s highest priority,” Mr. Rosen said in the email. “St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center staff followed both law and procedure by immediately reporting the assault to local law enforcement as well as the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. An assault resulting in death is an extremely rare occurrence within an Office of Mental Health facility. Under such circumstances, law enforcement and the Justice Center will both investigate the incident.”

Mr. Rosen said the assailant was not a patient in the sex-abuser detention program.

“The incident in question occurred within the Trinity Building at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center,” he said. “St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center’s Sex Offender Treatment Program is entirely contained within the separate free-standing Bridgeview Building, which features heightened security measures. The populations in Trinity and Bridgeview are segregated from one another at all times and share no facilities at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.”

Mr. Harrienger’s obituary said he was a general laborer in the garage of the psychiatric center for 20 years until retiring because of disability. He was a native of Adams.

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