MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – A widely played surveillance video of a woman in a church pew warding off an attacker with her pen led to the arrest of a 44-year-old man, police said Friday.
The unidentified 58-year-old woman was praying at the chapel of St. Joseph's Church in this Hudson Valley city early Wednesday when she fought off the attacker by stabbing him in the neck with a pen she was using to write in her journal.
The man ran off, but the incident was recorded by the church's security cameras and broadcast on local television news.
John Michael Petry was arrested Thursday evening after an off-duty firefighter spotted him riding a bike, recognized him from the news and called police, Middletown Police Lt. Paul Rickard said Friday.
The tip from firefighter Michael Benedetto was one of many police received after the video broadcasts.
"We actually had people calling saying 'Hey, I think this guy is John Petry!"' Rickard said.
Petry faces felony charges of attempted rape and sex abuse and misdemeanor charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. He was in jail Friday on $100,000 bail.
Petry is a former psychiatric patient who has been homeless off and on over the years and has an arrest record dating back to 1981, police said.
Middletown is 59 miles north of New York City.