The man accused of slashing a bicyclist's throat on the South Side last month had been released from jail on weapons charges hours before police said he pulled out a black folding knife and attacked a man on city steps.
On Thursday, Anthony Scholl Jr., 21, of West Mifflin was already in the Allegheny County Jail on charges that he tried to set his stepfather's house on fire out of fear an alligator would eat him when Pittsburgh police charged him with attacking Colin Albright on Sept. 5.
The arrest -- the third in seven weeks for a man with an otherwise clean criminal record -- confused his attorney and left the victim feeling sorry for him.
"He has a lot more demons to deal with from here on out," said Mr. Albright, who receives physical therapy three times a week while he tries to recover from a stab wound to his shoulder.
Mr. Scholl, who relatives say has psychological problems, was arraigned Thursday night on charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. A judge set his bail at $100,000 and ordered him to undergo a mental evaluation in the jail's behavior clinic before he can be released.
Daniel Joyce, the attorney who represented Mr. Scholl in his two previous criminal cases, said he had an "unblemished record" until this fall.
State police arrested Mr. Scholl on Sept. 5 on charges that he lied about a 10-year history of smoking marijuana when he filled out a form to buy an AK-47 rifle from a sporting goods store and used a file to scratch off the serial number from a shot gun. He was arraigned shortly after 11 a.m. that day and posted bail.
Later that night, Mr. Scholl was driving a 2003 Dodge Stratus across the Hot Metal Bridge when Mr. Albright cut him off while riding on a bicycle. Mr. Albright was walking up the city steps near Josephine Street when a man chased him up the steps and stabbed him, police said, narrowly missing his carotid artery and brain stem. Surveillance footage showed the suspect running down the steps and fleeing in a car.
Police searched for weeks to find leads in the case, releasing the surveillance footage and a sketch of the suspect. Major Crimes Lt. Kevin Kraus did not say during a news conference how police connected Mr. Scholl to the attack and a detective provided no explanation in a criminal complaint.
Police interviewed him at headquarters on the North Side Thursday and wrote in the complaint that he confessed to the crime, saying he and Mr. Albright tussled on the city steps and "he thought the victim was going to hit him with his bike."
Mr. Albright said he disagreed with Mr. Scholl's account of events but declined to go into specifics, saying he worried he would jeopardize court proceedings.
He struggled to understand why the attack occurred, as did police.
"From what we understand, it was random," Lt. Kraus said.
Mr. Scholl's mother, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday, told West Homestead police that her son "has psychological issues" and she wanted to take him to Jefferson Regional Medical Center, according to a criminal complaint. She made those comments after she called police on the morning of Oct. 9 to say that she thought her son had tried to burn down his stepfather's home on Forest Avenue.
When police met Mr. Scholl and his mother at a home on Shadyside Drive in West Mifflin, he "seemed to be in some type of dazed state," police wrote in a complaint. Police wrote that Mr. Scholl confessed to pouring gasoline on his stepfather's front porch and lighting it on fire.
"He stated that he believes his mother and stepfather ... want to kill him, and feed him to their pet alligator," police wrote. "I asked Mr. Scholl why he did it, and he said, 'I wanted to burn the alligator up.' "
Mr. Scholl was taken to the Allegheny County Jail and arraigned on charges of arson and risking a catastrophe. He has remained there since the arrest. Mr. Joyce said Mr. Scholl pleaded not guilty in that case and in the case involving the guns.
"Before the recent first case that I represented him on, he has an unblemished record," Mr. Joyce said. He declined to comment on Mr. Scholl's mental state other than to say that he was not aware of any mental health diagnosis.
Mr. Albright took the news of Mr. Scholl's arrest in stride, saying his routine had changed little since the attack, that he still sometimes walked the city steps alone at 4 a.m. The main question that remains, he said, is why the stabbing occurred in the first place.
"I can't wait to hear it," he said. "I want to know what makes you go to such extreme lengths."neigh_city
Staff writer Jonathan D. Silver contributed. Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1438.