The Atlantic

A Puzzling Opioid-Linked Killing Points to a Dangerous Trend

What led an addiction doctor to keep a gun in his desk?
Source: Brian Rinker / Kaiser Health News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—The police report is all David Cole Lang’s family has to describe his last moments on Earth.

Fifty pages of officer narratives and witness interviews filled with grisly detail, it lacks any explanation for his death. Many months later, Lang’s widow, Monique, says she still has no clue as to why the 33-year-old combat veteran and father who struggled with opioid addiction ended up fatally shot by a doctor whom—as far as Monique knew—he hadn’t seen in over a year.

“I didn’t understand why he was there,” she says. “I still don’t.”

On that April evening last year, according to interviews in the report, Lang yelled and cussed at the addiction- and pain-treatment doctor, Edwin Zong, in his office, and leaped across a desk to punch him repeatedly. Hearing the doctor scream for help, the last patient waiting to see Zong that day ran to open the door. He told police he found Lang standing over Zong, curled in a fetal position on the floor, his face covered in blood and “the fear of a child in his eyes.”

“Hey!” the patient yelled.

When Lang turned toward the doorway, Zong told

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