Sword-attack victim talks on TikTok about assault, recovery from hospital bed – Times Union

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Jon Romano was the victim of a vicious sword attack at the former St. Casimir’s School in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood that is now a homeless drop-in center operated by the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless.
Jon Romano, pictured in a 2004 court appearance, is now 34 and has posted nine videos about being attacked by a sword-wielding man at an Albany homeless center in August and his recovery from catastrophic injuries to his arms and legs.
Randell Mason, 42, left, appears at his arraignment Thursday on charges that accused him of attacking a man with a sword on Aug. 29, 2022. The victim, Jon Romano, was gravely injured in an attack that took place in an Albany homeless shelter.
Randell Mason, 42, left, appears at his arraignment Thursday on charges that accused him of attacking a man with a sword on Aug. 29, 2022. The victim, Jon Romano, was gravely injured in an attack that took place in an Albany homeless shelter.
ALBANY – The victim in the Aug. 29 sword attack at a Sheridan Avenue homeless shelter has been chronicling his recovery from a hospital bed on TikTok.
Jon Romano, 34, has posted nine videos, including the first public description of the attack from his perspective on the social media site. The attack at 315 Sheridan Ave. left Romano with critical injuries to his arms, which were severed and needed to be reattached, as well as severe injuries to his legs and head.
In the videos, which have racked up millions of views, Romano shares his struggles as well as his attempts to regain movement in all four limbs.
“I ask myself, ‘Why am I going through this, why am I still alive’,” he said.
Romano said the assault began after his alleged attacker, Randell Mason, 42, became upset when he asked what was for lunch and a worker at the Community Connections Drop-In Center told him to read the bulletin board nearby.
Mason allegedly replied, “It’s written in the book for you, white devil,” and became more agitated after Romano and other shelter workers told him he couldn’t use that language. After several minutes of Mason talking to himself, Romano told his boss he was going to kick Mason out.
Mason asked to stop by the shelter’s lockers to gather his belongings before he left, Romano said.
“A moment later, my boss starts screaming, ‘watch out’ and the guy comes out of the locker room, he’s got two swords in his hands,” Romano recalled.
Romano said Mason chased after him and caught up to him in a stairwell.
“He’s chopping up my legs real bad and I’m still holding them up as they’re falling apart,” Romano recalled.
Behind the two men, shelter workers were screaming. At some point, Mason allegedly walked away before returning to Romano and renewing his attack. Romano had blacked out and his co-workers were attempting to keep him awake until paramedics could arrive.
Romano came back to consciousness as the man stood over him, telling one of his co-workers to get out of the way.
“I start holding up my arms and he starts chopping away again and my arms start falling apart,” Romano said. “I’m trying to protect my head and chest.”
In some of the videos, Romano appears upbeat, calling his condition temporary and thanking the medical staff that has helped him since the attack. In others, the toll of the attack and frustration with his limited mobility appear to weigh on him.
“I’ve lost all independence. I’m just lying here in a bed 24/7,” he said.
In others, he appears determined to move on from the attack.
“We’re still going to push forward, we’re still going to talk about reforms and doing good,” he tells his followers.
Since the attack, Romano has regained some movement in both arms. He says surgeons tell him there’s a chance he’ll eventually regain the ability to walk.
Romano has used TikTok under the name “Jon4peace” to talk about a number of issues, including mental health, prison reform and his work at the homeless shelter where he was attacked. Romano was sentenced to 20 years in state prison for firing a shotgun at students at Columbia High School in East Greenbush in 2004 when he was 16. A teacher was wounded in the attack as an assistant principal, John Sawchuk, tackled Romano and disarmed him. Romano was released in 2020.
Romano became involved in work at the shelter, called the Community Connections Drop-In Center, and ran its clothing pantry. He has openly spoken about his mental health struggles in the past.
Mason, the man arrested for attacking Romano, faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
Police said Mason admitted he “chopped up” Romano after a disagreement. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Earlier this month he was scheduled to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. It was not immediately clear if that had happened as of Monday. Mason’s next court date is scheduled for Oct 14.
Steve covers the city and county of Albany for the Times Union. He previously covered police, fire and accidents as the paper’s breaking news reporter. Reach him at shughes@timesunion.com or 518-454-5438.


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