Nicholas Deak Shot to Death in New York Office

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Nicholas L. Deak, 80-year-old founder and chairman of Deak & Co., one of the nation's leading precious metals and currency exchange firms, was shot to death Monday along with his receptionist in his company's 21st-floor offices by a homeless women who claimed to be part-owner of the firm.

A police spokesman identified the woman as Lois Lang, who was believed to be in her forties. Police captured her as she tried to leave the premises at 29 Broadway, on the lower tip of Manhattan.

Ms. Lang had "come in on numerous occasions" to the Deak & Co. headquarters and "was known to office personnel," said Edward Kulesa, a spokesman for the New York Police Department.

According to reports, she entered the Deak offices at 11:20 a.m. and pulled out an unlicensed .38 caliber pistol.

Then, according to Mr. Kulesa, she entered Mr. Deak's office and fired twice, hitting Mr. Deak's receptionist once in the head. Police identified the receptionist as Frances Lauder, 58, of Staten Island, N.Y.

Ms. Lang then fired three times at Mr. Deak, who had left his office upon hearing the commotion. He was struck once in the heart.

Ms. Lauder was killed instantly, according to a spokesperson at Beekman Downtown Hospital. Mr. Deak died soon after arrival at the hospital.

Police Capt. William Quigley said Ms. Lang reloaded the revolver and was about to leave when she was confronted by police, who told her to raise her hands. She refused and was tackled by an officer. When the officer pulled her hand from her pocket, Capt. Quigley said, her hand was on the gun.

Ms. Lang reportedly had gone to the company's headquarters about 9:30 a.m. Monday and had been ushered out.

"She's claiming some injustice was done to her in the past by this company," Capt. Quigley said. "There's no substantiation."

He said she had no criminal record.

Steve Kiersh, a porter who went to the 21st floor when trouble was reported, described Ms. Lang as a gray-haired "attractive woman." He said she was carrying a knapsack that contained an aluminum baseball bat.

She looked "normal, like you or me, just somebody walking down the street," Mr. Kiersh said.

Son of a European Banking Family

Mr. Deak, who lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., was born to an affluent banking family in Hatszeg, Transylvania -- now part of Rumania -- in 1905. He acquired a law degree in his home country before obtaining degrees in international finance, economics, forestry, and engineering at various schools in Austria, Switzerland, and France. …