On Thursday night, police say, a Pine Hill man was stabbed in his home by a drunken neighbor, but fought back and managed to restrain his assailant and call for help until police arrived.
Shandaken police report that Kenneth J. Fazzina, a 52-year-old Pine Hill resident, was arrested last night after they received a 911 call about a man yelling for help on Academy Street. According to a press release, a drunken Fazzina entered his neighbor's house without permission and slashed the man on the abdomen with a knife, leaving a 6-inch cut.
Fazzina was also injured in the fight, and was taken to the Margaretville Hospital, where he was treated and received four staples for a head wound.
What's not in the press release: The victim is local artist, performer and pagan minister Richard Treitner, whose house was the target of an unsolved arson nearly two years ago. And he's been afraid of an attack like this for a long time. Treitner describes the assault as a "homophobic panic attack" from a man who did not want Treitner talking about their alleged sexual encounters.
Treitner says he is afraid that Fazzina might retaliate against him, but he agreed to tell his story to the Watershed Post, in the hopes that public knowledge about his situation might protect him from further attacks.
"I hope it's not going to make things worse," Treitner said. "I don't know that keeping silent would make things any better either. At least if people know about it, that will be some deterrent."
About two years ago, Treitner said, he had sex with Fazzina. Later, he said, Fazzina warned him to keep quiet about it.
"He threatened to kill me if I ever told anyone," Treitner said.
Treitner said Fazzina was the main suspect in the 2010 arson, but that police were never able to find enough evidence to arrest anyone. At the time, Treitner told the Watershed Post that he thought the arson might have been a hate crime, and that he had "had some problems in the past with people making comments and threats," but did not specifically accuse Fazzina.
Treitner is afraid that he may face further attacks from Fazzina, who is now in the Ulster County Jail on $25,000 bail, facing charges of third-degree assault, second-degree burglary and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The Shandaken Town Court has also issued an order of protection for Treitner.
"He threatened to come back and finish the job," Treitner said.
Treitner says he is lucky to be alive.
"He was drunk. He stabbed me with the knife and it broke," Treitner said. "He stabbed me in the chest right by my heart. I was very lucky."
The attack might have gone worse for Treitner if he had not fought back -- punching Fazzina, grabbing for a nearby stone doorstop and hitting him in the head.
"I punched him in the face and knocked him down, and I held him down until the police came. I screamed for help," Treitner said.
Treitner also sent an email describing the incident. Here is the story in Treitner's own words:
So last night I was preparing for a weekend away camping and vending at a local event, the Big Indian Pow Wow...After hours of work I finally went to shower some time at late night before going to bed. While in the shower I heard a voice and then saw a figure through the shower door. Apparently my screen door had proved little barrier and Kenny, a neighbor from down the street had let himself in.
Two years prior we had had sex on two occasions, but that had ended when he began threatening my life out of his panic about his own closeted sexuality. Then an arson attack happened upon my home soon after that on Thanksgiving night while I was away visiting family. Kenny became the main and then the only suspect in everyone's eyes, including the police, but no charges were pressed due to 'lack of evidence' even though it was reported that Kenny had been mouthing off about the incident that very night it had been set. He then made threats at a later point to again "kill me if he ever caught me alone out at night".
At first I was afraid, but then because he was drunk and making sexual overtures, I thought he was trying to make up. He said he hadn't set the fire. Soon after he was finally being led out the door when he asked me for a kiss goodbye. I stupidly leaned close when I felt a pain in my chest and he muttered something vehement under his drunken breath. I looked down to see the knife blade skittering to the floor and him clutching the handle tight in his hands. Miraculously the blade had snapped clean off leaving only a scratch across my chest. He didn't realize the knife was broken and went to stab and attack me further. I punched him in the face and because he was drunk I managed to knock him to the ground in the scuffle. He kept trying to get up and attack further so I reached out my hand and grabbed whatever I could touch to defend myself with. After hitting him once I realized I had grabbed the door stop which was a round carved stone, (which the police described as a concrete block but I think it is granite). I stopped after realizing what it was but held it in threat as I held him down and screamed for help. Luckily some passersby heard and called for help which came some time later with him threatening to kill me when he gets out the next chance he gets.
He is currently being held with a $25,000 or $35,000 bail (?). [Fazzina's bail was set at $25,000. --Ed.] I'm still in shock. I had already lived in fear since the arson attack and had even spent a year deeply depressed and hiding indoors because I felt unsafe in my own home. I was just finally getting over it when this happened.