ILWACO — Two men were stabbed during an altercation with an allegedly mentally ill man on April 30.
The incident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. on Monday night at an apartment complex in the 100 block of Second Avenue SW in Ilwaco, according to Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright.
Investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened, Wright said, but they believe the altercation started when an apartment resident Joseph Hohl, 28, stepped out of his apartment to speak with his son.
Hohl told investigators that as soon as he went outside, he saw smoke coming from the driver’s side of his car. As he headed toward his car, his former neighbor, Mitchell E. Marteeny, 51, allegedly began threatening to kill him, making unfounded accusations and waving a knife. The agitated man allegedly rushed at him. Hohl, who said he feared for his life, pulled out his pocket knife in self-defense, and began backing away from Marteeny.
Steven Wright, 52, who lives across the street from the apartments, saw what was happening. He tried to intervene on Hohl’s behalf by grabbing Marteeny in a bear hug. A struggle ensued, and Marteeny allegedly stabbed Wright, causing two puncture wounds to his chest.
Hohl ran inside to get his gun. Meanwhile, a fourth neighborhood resident, Tyler Custer, 47, joined the fray, hoping to save Wright (the intervenor, not the police chief). He too was stabbed several times.
Hohl returned with his gun, but couldn’t get a clear shot.
“They were all intertwined and [Hohl] couldn’t shoot the suspect safely,” Chief Wright explained. So, he allegedly fired a couple rounds into the air, hoping that might break up the fight.
“It didn’t do anything, so he whacked the suspect on the head [with his pistol],” Wright said. Striking Marteeny several times with the butt of the pistol didn’t work either, but Hohl was eventually able to pin down Marteeny’s wrist and hit his hand with the gun until Marteeny dropped his knife. The stabbing victims and other bystanders subdued Marteeny and restrained him until police arrived. Hohl gave first aid to Custer, who had “severe knife wounds to his right arm.”
Long Beach Police, Pacific County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and Washington State Parks officers found Marteeny lying on the ground, bleeding. He was handcuffed and put in a squad car without further incident.
The victims were taken by ambulance to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria. One underwent surgery, according to Chief Wright. Their injuries were not life-threatening and the men are expected to make full recoveries.
Marteeny was taken to Ocean Beach Hospital, where he was treated before being booked into Pacific County Jail around 11 p.m. on suspicion of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree arson and malicious harassment. Bail has not yet been set, but court records show that Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain is requesting $250,000 bail.
Not his first rodeo
According to McClain, Marteeny’s criminal history consists of 25 cases, with convictions for drug possession in 2003 and 2006, numerous misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor charges, and bail jumping and fourth-degree assault in 2002. He also violated an anti-harassment protection order in 2013, and has an open disorderly conduct case from earlier this year. He has had warrants issued in 11 prior cases, including five that are currently active.
Police incident logs show that Marteeny appears to have a mental illness that causes him to believe crimes are being committed that only he can see. Over the last several months, his calls to police and appeals to hospital employees have become increasingly frequent.
Cries for help
In November 2016, Marteeny told police his neighbor was holding a woman hostage. Officers investigated, but found no evidence of any crimes. In October 2017, he told Ocean Beach Hospital staff he needed to speak to an officer, but disappeared before police arrived.
In 2018, he had 17 interactions with Long Beach Police prior to the Monday night incident, including two in January, six in March and nine in April. In most of the encounters, Marteeny allegedly told officers his neighbors were raping women in their apartment. On several occasions, officers dutifully listened to recordings Marteeny made of the alleged rapes, but could not hear anything suspicious. In January, the accused allowed officers to look around their apartment.
“They were watching TV and smoking a lot of marijuana,” the officers reported. “There was nothing to indicate that there were hostages or other crimes on the premises.”
In mid-March, police allegedly found Marteeny dancing in the street. They told him it wasn’t safe, and he complied. He called again on March 23 to report another rape.
“It appears Mr. Marteeny is quite delusional in his belief this is occurring,” an officer wrote. When he was found yelling outside of his apartment a few nights later, another officer wrote, “His behavior appears to be escalating.”
On March 31, police found him trying to get into his apartment. Marteeny said his landlord changed his locks without any notification. The landlord said he did it “because Marteeny was scaring his other tenants.” Police told him Marteeny could not be trespassed from his own home until he went through formal eviction proceedings. In early April, the landlord’s employee told police they were starting the eviction process. She said all of the other tenants in the complex planned to seek anti-harassment protection orders. It appears that Marteeny moved at some point in April, but he allegedly continued to harass his former neighbors.