The baseball bat attack that injured a 14-year-old boy last month stemmed from a neighborhood feud, according to family members.
Alexander J. Messina, 20, of 818 Crane St. is accused of hitting Richard Retos on the side of the head just before 10 a.m. Nov. 18.
Retos is now recovering at Sunnyside Rehabilitation Hospital.
His mother, Christina Amell, said Retos may be well enough to go home by the end of the week, but doctors need to insert a metal plate into his head.
Amell said she believes the attack stemmed from an ongoing dispute her family had with neighbors across the street.
She gave the following account:
A group of men have been painting graffiti on houses and vandalizing cars in the neighborhood. Her 12-year-old daughter, Sabrina Moore, often had adults surrounding her and threatening to attack her when she was walking to and from school.
On the day Retos was struck, Sabrina woke up the rest of the family to tell them that all four tires of their truck had been slashed, the back window was broken and paint was poured over it.
They went to confront the person they suspected had committed the crime and that person’s pit bull charged at his father, Richard Moore. He threw the dog off of him. The owner of the dog then returned with two other people to confront the family. One man came after Moore with a baseball bat. Amell said her husband picked up rocks from the empty lot next door and chased him. A friend got on a bike and followed the attackers.
“There was so much commotion,” Amell said.
Sabrina said she and her brother were standing near the corner of Congress Street and Sixth Avenue. A man on a bike told her to get her father to fight him or her brother would be attacked. “They said they’re going to [expletive] him up if I don’t get him,” Sabrina said.
Then, Messina allegedly attacked Retos.
“They were trying to fight his father and that’s when they took it out on him,” Amell said.
Retos was able to walk home and then he collapsed on the kitchen floor. He was not responding and in and out of consciousness when an ambulance took him to Albany Medical Center, according to Amell. He was placed in a medically induced coma for a week and doctors had to remove a portion of his skull.
“They did a CAT scan and there was blood pushing on his brain,” Amell said.
When he woke up, Amell said her son didn’t know where he was and thought it was still the day of the attack.
Speaking from his hospital bed Monday, Retos told The Gazette his memory of that day is somewhat hazy.
“I really was dazed out a little bit,” he said.
Retos said the dispute started over stupid stuff that had been said between the parties involved. He was grateful for his father defending him.
“I just can’t wait,” he said. “It makes me cry to see my mother.”
Retos still has a little difficulty speaking and will need speech therapy as well as occupational and physical therapy.
The attack frightened him.
“I’m 14 years old. That’s why I was a little scared when he hit me,” he said.
Messina was arrested last Tuesday evening and faces felony counts of first-degree assault and first-degree gang assault as well as misdemeanors of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. Police are looking for other suspects.
Police Department spokesman Sgt. Matthew Dearing said no other arrests have been made in the case but the investigation is continuing.
He said he could not yet confirm that the attack stemmed from a neighbor dispute.
Retos had words for his attackers.
“I hope they die in hell.”