LEOMINSTER – At about 7:35 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, Officer James McKenna of the Leominster Police Department was dispatched to Entertainment Cinemas following a report that two women were fighting in the parking lot.
(The account and quotations in this article were taken from the printed Personnel Narrative of Officer McKenna.)
“When I arrived, I discovered Saroeun Heng walking down the sidewalk,” Officer McKenna said.
Heng is a 33-year-old Leominster resident.
Limping behind Heng was a woman with blood streaming down her face, who yelled “he did this to me!”
“The blood was dripping on the ground as well as soaking the area of her shirt in the area of her bust,” Officer McKenna said. The woman was later identified as Shaileen O’Brien, a 33-year-old Bridgewater resident.
Heng then exclaimed that he was “defending his kids.”
Officer McKenna separated Heng and O’Brien, requested an ambulance, and waited for backup to arrive.
When Officer Christian Edge arrived on scene, he stayed with Heng while Officer McKenna spoke with the first witness, John Ander, a 22-year-old employee of the movie theater who claimed he saw the entire incident.
Ander said that Heng’s girlfriend, Helen Nguyen, 31, of Leominster, and her daughter, were seated in the movie theater when O’Brien approached the two, accusing the little girl of stealing her seat. Then one of the women said let’s “take it outside.”
According to Ander, as soon as the women exited the theater into the parking lot, O’Brien pushed Nguyen and the two “engaged in a physical confrontation.”
Ander said he managed to separate the fighting women, but as he did so, Heng told him not to touch his girlfriend. Heng then involved himself in the fight, pushing Ander’s 63-year-old manager, Linda Hanney, before punching O’Brien in the face.
Officer McKenna said a review of the theater’s surveillance footage confirmed Ander’s account of the incident.
“Shaileen can be seen yelling at what sounds like the top of her lungs for Helen to go outside over and over,” Officer McKenna explained. “Shaileen got very close to Helen’s face and said ‘let’s go.’ She also says ‘I’m not fighting in front of your kids, b$tch!’ Helen can be seen apologizing to the crowd in the film. Helen then exits.”
Officer McKenna then spoke with Heng to get his side of the story.
According to Heng, his girlfriend called him to say that a woman was “being aggressive with the young girls.”
“Saroeun stated he then acted to prevent Helen and Shaileen from fighting,” said Officer McKenna.
Officer McKenna then spoke with Nguyen, Heng’s girlfriend.
“Helen stated that Shaileen came at her and began yelling at her in the movie theater,” Officer McKenna said. “She went on to say that after the incident in the theater, Shaileen punched her from behind. Helen stated she was on the ground for the majority of the incident and was unable to view a lot of her surroundings. I asked her if Saroeun punched Shaileen and Helen stated she did not see that. Helen had a fresh scratch to the right side of her face from the assault.”
Officer McKenna then spoke with the manager of the movie theater, Linda Hanney. Hanney said she saw the last part of the incident.
“Linda explained that someone had yelled at Helen’s daughter. She stated that Helen and Shaileen then began arguing nonstop and one party was yelling to go outside,” Officer McKenna said. “Linda stated that once outside, the pair began pulling each other’s hair and fighting. Linda stated the pair stopped for a period of time then began fighting again. Linda stated that Saroeun then ‘sucker punched’ Shaileen. The fight ended after that.”
While a responding officer took photos of O’Brien’s face before she was taken to the hospital, Officer McKenna took a photo of the area where the crime had taken place. Officer McKenna said he found a very large pool of blood on the right side of the sidewalk.
“When looking at the photos, we observed an estimated half inch gap where the exterior portion of Shaileen’s skin does not cover her brow and the area in between her eye and nose. Shaileen was unable to open her right eye while I was speaking to her. It was getting increasingly colored and swollen,” said Officer McKenna. “Absent any medical intervention, I cannot foresee any natural course that would correct these injuries. The amount of stitches and/or staples required to mend the injury given the spatial gap between the exposed skin will undoubtedly lead to permanent scarification and possibly lead to the change in the normal range of motion of functioning of Shaileen’s eye.”
Officer McKenna then went to the hospital to speak with O’Brien. When he arrived at her hospital room, Officer McKenna said O’Brien’s eye was even more swollen than before.
“The doctor arrived to examine the injury. He needed to use force using his fingers to separate her eyelids,” Officer McKenna said. “Shaileen screamed out in agony during the process. Shaileen described the pain as ‘ripping my skull in two.’”
When the doctor finished, O’Brien told Officer McKenna that Nguyen “came down to her in the movie theater” in an attempt to start a fight. Once outside the theater, O’Brien said Heng punched her so hard that she collapsed, striking her head on the ground.
Officer McKenna said that O’Brien “admitted to being the aggressor during the encounter.”
In addition to her eye injury, O’Brien said she also felt nauseous.
“I asked the doctor about how many stitches Shaileen may need and about broken bones,” Officer McKenna said. “He was not incredibly helpful, but did say she required stitches.”
O’Brien was summoned to Leominster District Court for the following charges: Assault and Battery and Disorderly Conduct.
Heng was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury.
Heng’s bail was set at $2,500.
He was arraigned in Leominster District Court on Aug. 2.
During Heng’s pretrial conference on Sept. 7, Judge Andrew Abdella approved a motion from Heng’s court appointed attorney for funds for an investigator.
Heng is scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 23.
Disclaimer: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from August, that’s because I had to file FOIA request(s) to get the court documents for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.