Cops: Troopers slashed while making arrest

Last updated: January 8, 2020 - 2:10pm

COOPER TWP. — Two State Troopers were slashed by a knife Tuesday night in a struggle with a man who had told his relatives he wanted to commit “suicide by cop,” police say.

Troopers were first called to 301 Pepper Hills Drive, a trailer in a court east of Danville, around 7 p.m. after a report of a man throwing knives at his sister, police said. 

When they arrived at the home around 7:15 p.m., they found Michael Warren Hartzell, 24, in the kitchen with a knife to his throat and another in his belt, which he grabbed.

While they told him repeatedly to drop the knives, he refused, charges say. 

So troopers shot their Taser stun guns at Hartzell, but they didn’t work, police say. Instead Hartzell began approaching the four troopers with knives still in his hands.

Corporal Joshua Herman then tried to “physically … subdue” Hartzell. During the struggle, both he and Trooper James Gutierrez were cut by knives, charges say. Herman received multiple cuts on his left arm, while Gutierrez received a cut that required stitches to close, police say.

Eventually, officers were able to get Hartzell into handcuffs and under arrest.

Threw knives
Earlier in the night, Hartzell had argued with his girlfriend, Becca Alberti. The argument escalated after Hartzell took Alberti’s phone, accused her of cheating and then kicked down a bathroom door, arrest papers state.

He had grabbed two steak knives from the kitchen and thrown them at Alberti and his sister, Victoria Hartzell, charges state. At one point, he allegedly told them he wanted to die by “suicide by cop.” 

Michael Hartzell later told police that he had been holding a knife to his throat when police arrived in the hopes that when they shot him with a Taser he would stab himself, court papers state.

The two officers injured taking Hartzell into custody were taken to the emergency room and released, police said. 

Hartzell was arrested and arraigned before on-call District Judge Douglas Brewer on Wednesday morning. He faces six counts of aggravated assault, two counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of resisting arrest.

He was sent to Montour County jail because he couldn’t post $125,000 bail.

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