Police: Man facing charges after assaulting prison officer

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A Tyrone man will face criminal charges for allegedly assaulting a Blair County Prison corrections officer when he is returned from the Torrance State Hospital where he is undergoing a mental health evaluation.

The suspect in the assault, Richard A. Supenia, 50, was transferred to Torrance after he was accused of spitting in the face of an officer and throwing a “cup of yellow liquid,” believed to be urine, at the officer.

That liquid hit the officer in the face and upper body.

Supenia later in a statement allegedly told investigators he had hepatitis but that he was cured of the disease.

He blamed his former medical condition on his job at a local chemical plant.

Prison Warden Michael M. Johnston said this week the investigation of the incident was turned over to Hollidaysburg police.

Supenia meanwhile was transferred from the Blair County Prison to the crisis center at UPMC Altoona and then went to Torrance for a mental health evaluation.

Hollidaysburg Police Chief Jeffrey Ketner said this week that the police investigation has been completed, and Supenia will be facing several charges from the incident but did not say what they might be.

The incident occurred the evening of April 27, according to a police affidavit used to request a search warrant for a sample of Supenia’s blood for medical testing.

The affidavit stated that the corrections officer went to a holding cell on the prison’s first floor to collect the inmate’s empty dinner tray.

The officer bent down to what is known as a “pie hole” in the door to retrieve the tray. The inmate is alleged to have spit in the officer’s face and then tossed the yellow liquid.

Supenia entered guilty pleas last July to charges of terroristic threats and simple assault after an incident in a Tyrone convenience store where he made threats that he was going to blow up a chemical plant. He then kicked an officer.

He was placed on five years’ probation on those charges while nine other charges were dismissed, according to state court records. The record does not state why Supenia was incarcerated at the time of the incident.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.