DANVILLE — The preliminary hearing has been postponed for a Cooper Township man who faces charges of slashing two troopers with knives after his sister called police because he was throwing steak knives at her and his girlfriend.
The hearing for Michael W. Hartzell, 24, of 301 Pepper Hills Road, was postponed from Tuesday, according to Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder. He said County District Attorney Angela Mattis requested the continuance. The Commonwealth requested a continuance because the victims are unavailable, Mattis said.
No new date has been scheduled.
Hartzell slashed Cpl. Joshua Herman and Tpr. James Gutierrez on their left arms with two knives, according to the charges.
The troopers sustained lacerations to their arms with one requiring stitches. Police said the incident started when Hartzell’s girlfriend, Becca Alberti, was on the phone and he believed she was cheating on him.
Hartzell is charged with six counts of aggravated assault, two counts of recklessly endangering another person for throwing knives at Alberti and his sister, Victoria Hartzell, and one count of resisting arrest.
Victoria Hartzell, told police her brother started throwing the knives at 6:57 p.m. Tuesday and then left with a bag. He returned to the home a short time before state police arrived at about 7:16 p.m.
Tpr. Matthew Hill encountered the defendant in the kitchen holding a knife to his neck. Hill repeatedly asked him to drop the knife and he refused to do so. Soon after that, Tpr. Matthew Lesher and Gutierrez arrived and entered the home, followed by Herman. The defendant retrieved another knife from his belt and continued to disobey commands from troopers to drop the knives. Troopers tried to subdue him using Tasers deployed by Herman and Hill.
The defendant then began to approach troopers after the Tasers were ineffective. Herman tried to physically subdue him while he had the knives in his hands. Herman and Gutierrez were cut by the knives as they struggled with the defendant on the floor, according to the charges.
Herman sustained multiple lacerations on his left arm and Gutierrez sustained a laceration on his left arm that required several stitches.
Police eventually placed the defendant in handcuffs and took him into custody.
Tpr. Brian Watkins, who filed the charges, arrived at about 8:17 p.m. and interviewed the defendant’s mother, Jacquelyn Andress, his sister and girlfriend.
Andress said she drove to the store to buy cigarettes at about 6:15 p.m. While she was gone, Michael Hartzell tried to gain access to Alberti’s phone because he believed she was cheating on him.
The defendant began to punch and kick the bathroom door, according to the charges. His sister called 911.
He became increasingly enraged and said he was going to die by “suicide by cop.” He broke down the door of the bathroom, pushing his girlfriend and sister in the process. He went to the kitchen and retrieved two steak knives and threw them at the two women. He then left the home for 10 to 15 minutes before returning.
Watkins interviewed the defendant at about 11:55 p.m. Tuesday who said he slept most of the day and woke up with his girlfriend in the early evening. He said he made something to eat and began to argue with Alberti about her using her phone. He said he took her phone and went to the bathroom. He said the situation escalated after he broke down the bathroom door and went to the kitchen.
He said he tossed two kitchen knives at his sister and girlfriend and then left the home. He returned and was in the kitchen when Hill arrived. He said he wanted to be tased by troopers when he had the knives up to his neck to stab himself, police said.
On-call Millville District Judge Doug Brewer arraigned him and committed him to the Montour County Jail in lieu of $125,000 bail.