Skip to main content

Victim in Alleged Homeless Shelter Sword Attack Was Once Convicted in School Shooting

Jon W. Romano

Jon W. Romano

The victim in an alleged, near-fatal sword attack turned out to be someone who once opened fire at a local high school and injured a teacher. Outlets report that he is Jon W. Romano, 34.

Police in Albany, New York, did not name him in a press statement, but the Times Union named him. So did WNYT. WTEN identified Romano through Albany City Criminal Court documents.

By accounts, Romano was attempting to move on with his life and trying to do good. That’s how he ended up working at a homeless shelter on Albany’s Sheridan Avenue. He was working in the clothing pantry, a man who identified himself as a former coworker told the Times Union.

Police reports reportedly describe Albany man Randell D. Mason, 42, admitting to the attack.

“Yep, I chopped him up,” Mason allegedly said several times in documents. “He was disrespecting me.”

“He’s down there all chopped up, said I was racist,” Mason allegedly said.

Now Romano is at the Albany Medical Center Hospital in critical condition, suffering grievous wounds.

A prosecutor described doctors as having “reattached” his arms and lower leg yet still concerned about the condition of his leg, according to the Times Union. Police reportedly said Romano was also struck in the head.

Mason is charged with attempted murder in the second degree. He pleaded not guilty in an arraignment Tuesday and is being held without bail.

In 2004, Romano opened fire with a shotgun several times at Columbia High School in the nearby community of East Greenbush. Then-Assistant Principal John Sawchuk tackled him, according to The Spokesman-Review. During the struggle with the 230-pound, 6’2″ 16-year-old boy, the shotgun went off a third time, striking special-education teacher Michael Bennett in the legs. Romano pleaded guilty to attempted murder and reckless endangerment. He expressed remorse while in prison.

“John Sawchuk is a hero who I owe my life to,” Romano reportedly wrote from Coxsackie Correctional Facility. “I know that every time another horrible shooting happens, he and all of my victims are hurt all over again by what I did to them. I want to take away their pain, but knowing I cannot, I want to prevent others from experiencing this pain.”

He was released in December 2020, most of the way through a 20-year prison sentence.

Deputy Ken Cooper of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department actually invited him to speak at a school safety conference earlier this year.

“Way too many times we let that one kid get through the crack, and we don’t know how to reach out to them,” Cooper said, according to WTEN. “By Jon speaking, hopefully, there’s a kid watching the news tonight that says, ‘You know what? I can get help.’”

“If we can have them opening up and getting rid of any toxicity that might be building up within them, hopefully, nobody will even come close to doing anything that I’ve done,” Romano told reporters at the time.

His former colleague at the homeless shelter said Romano worked in a “relatively thankless position to ensure that a demographic who has been largely abandoned by the rest of society, has the resources they need.”

[Screenshot via WTEN]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: