Pittsburgh police have charged a West Mifflin man in the stabbing last month of 25-year-old South Side bicyclist Colin Albright but shed little light during a news conference this afternoon on what prompted the vicious attack.
"From what we understand, it was random," Pittsburgh police Lt. Kevin Kraus said in announcing the arrest of Anthony Scholl, 21.
Lt. Kraus referred to the assault as a "road-rage incident" carried out by an "enraged" Mr. Scholl. The lieutenant said Mr. Scholl essentially chased after Mr. Albright and mounted 300 city steps before stabbing him.
Mr. Scholl was already in the Allegheny County Jail, accused of setting his mother and stepfather's house in West Homestead on fire, Pittsburgh police said. He is currently at police headquarters on the North Side and will be brought back to jail to await arraignment on one count each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
West Homestead police wrote in a criminal complaint that Mr. Scholl's mother called police on the morning of Oct. 9 to say that her son had tried to set her husband's Forest Avenue home on fire. She told police her son has psychological issues -- though the complaint did specify what type of issues -- and that she planned to take him to a hospital for treatment.
Mr. Scholl told police he "believes his mother and step father...want to kill him, and feed him to their pet alligator," so he poured some gasoline on the front porch and lit it on fire. Asked why he did it, Mr. Scholl said he "wanted to burn the alligator up," according to the complaint.
Daniel Joyce, the attorney representing Mr. Scholl in that case and in a case in which he is alleged to have tampered with a firearm, said Mr. Scholl, "had a mistaken belief that his mother and step-father were gonna do him harm." He said Mr. Scholl has pleaded not guilty in both cases. He declined to comment on mental health issues other than to say he was not aware of any mental health diagnosis.
"Before the recent first case that I represented him on he has an unblemished record," Mr. Joyce said.
Investigators took possession Wednesday of Mr. Scholl's car to search it for evidence connected to the attack on Mr. Albright, police said.
The weapon used in the attack has not been found, Lt. Kraus said.
The attack occurred shortly before 11 p.m. Sept. 5 as Mr. Albright carried his bicycle up steps on the South Side Slopes.
Mr. Albright was stabbed repeatedly in the neck. Several of the wounds would have been fatal had they been a millimeter or two deeper or to the side.
He was released from the hospital Sept. 10.
At the time of the attack he said his assailant gave no reason for stabbing him, but he believed he had earlier biked across an intersection in front of the man's car just as the light changed, and guessed that the man might have believed Mr. Albright cut him off.
Lt. Kraus would not identify that as the particular reason for the assault but said once the two men met at the traffic light "the driver became enraged."
Police supplied surveillance video of a man walking to a car after the attack. That, along with a police sketch and Mr. Albright's detailed description of his assailant, prompted a tip from West Homestead police about two weeks ago about Mr. Scholl, who was not in jail at the time.
Investigators used surveillance on the vehicle that was eventually seized -- believed to be the same vehicle used in the assault -- but Lt. Kraus declined to provide further details.