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Police: Homeless man used bat, drill in attack

Merlini faces assault, burglary charges

A homeless man is in jail after police say he attacked a man with a baseball and power drill and then swung at a car full of people on Sixth Avenue.

According to Altoona police, it started about 1 p.m. Sunday after 73 year-old Robert Merlini allegedly urinated in an alley on the 100 block of Eighth Avenue.

Police said a homeowner said his three young children, all under the age of 5, were about 30 feet away in a backyard, but they didn’t see Merlini. After the resident yelled at Merlini and scared him off, Merlini allegedly walked into a business on the 100 block of Sixth Avenue, picked up an electric drill with a 12-inch bit and approached a man while running the drill.

The man told police Merlini made “aggressive movements” with the drill, and when he got about 3 feet away with the drill on, someone outside started talking and Merlini dropped the drill, police noted in the charges.

After the man pushed Merlini out of the building, Merlini walked down the alley and returned with a baseball bat. The man told police Merlini swung the bat at his shoulder but missed.

Merlini then walked to the 400 block of Sixth Avenue where he allegedly walked out into traffic and tried to hit a car with the bat.

An Altoona police officer found Merlini on the 500 block of Sixth Avenue, and although he ignored commands to drop the bat at first, when another officer arrived, Merlini dropped the bat after walking toward the police.

Merlini faces a list of charges, including felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. Bail was set Sunday night at $75,000 cash. He remains in Blair County Prison with a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Daniel DeAntonio scheduled for May 27.

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