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Potsdam man charged in sword attack

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POTSDAM - A Potsdam man has been charged with attacking his 61-year-old uncle with a sword during an incident early Sunday morning on Berkley Drive.

Village police said Mohamed R. (Ray) Bourhouat, 25, of 37 Waverly St., Apt. 1, Potsdam, turned himself in Monday evening and was charged with second-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon, criminal possession of a weapon with intent to use, second-degree menacing - weapon.

Police said the incident took place at 3 a.m. Sunday when Bourhouat arrived at 6 Berkley Drive armed with a sword and attempted to assault Alex Bennani.

Police said Bourhouat entered Bennani’s residence and began an argument that started in the bedroom and then moved onto the front porch. Bourhouat reportedly made multiple threats to harm Bennani and struck the porch near the victim several times with the still sheathed blade.

As the argument, Bennani reportedly attempted to take the sword away from Bourhouat and in the struggle suffered what police described as significant lacerations to the index, middle and ring fingers of his right hand.

Bourhouat fled the scene prior to police arriving on the scene.

The victim was transported to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, where he was treated and released after receiving 20 stitches.

Police said Bourhouat turned himself in at 8:19 p.m. Monday, He was arraigned by Potsdam Acting Village Justice Margaret I. Garner and sent to the St. Lawrence County Corrrectional Facility with bail set at $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond. She also ordered probation to conduct an alcohol evaluation.

Mr. Bennani said he had been at his business, La Casbah, shortly before the incident at his home and had argued with his nephew.

“Earlier this morning, Ray and I got into an argument when I tried to close La Casbah,” Mr. Bennani said, noting he had told everyone in the bar, including Ray’s guests, that it was time to leave.

““He was very drunk and was being obnoxious and disrespectful. He began to yell at me and insisted that I had to leave. I’ve seen how Ray gets when he drinks - he breaks things and becomes violent. I decided to leave instead of arguing with him,” he said, noting he left for home at approximately 3 a.m.

He said he stopped at the store and got some food, went home and warmed it up in the microwave and ate before going into his bedroom and starting to change. He said his brother in law had given him a ride home and while he was in the store Ray had called Hassan and threatened to break everything in the bar.

He said when he was getting changed in his bedroom he looked to his left and saw Ray standing in the doorway holding a sword. He said the sword was approximately three-feet long.

He said he immediately asked Ray about his intentions. “I think he began talking about himself and about how I was no good. He told me that if I got into his business one more time he was going to cut my head off,” Mr. Bennani said in the statement he provided police.

Mr. Bennani said he tried to stay calm and was eventually able to move his nephew toward the front door. “I unlocked the front door and convinced him to step outside with me. When we got outside, I felt a little sense of relief, but Ray didn’t calm down at all. I sat down on the front step to show him that I wasn’t going to fight him and to show him all the respect I could because I was still worried for my life,” he noted in his statement.

He said Bourhouat sat next to him briefly but continued to yell and become more aggressive, repeatedly threatening to cut his uncle’s head off if he got in his business again. His nephew then jabbed his finger into Mr. Bennani’s face, pressed his cheek and pushed his head to the side.

“He began yelling at me in Moroccan ... and told me that if I thought I was crazy he was crazier and was going to cut my head off,” Mr. Bennani told police.

He said his nephew was standing in front of him, slightly to his left, when he decided he needed to be proactive to protect himself.

“I jumped toward Ray and grabbed the sword with both hands. Ray quickly pulled it out of the sheath, and I knew at once I was hurt. When he tried to pull the sword away from me, it came out of the sheath and the blade sliced my fingers,” he noted in his statement to police.

“I have no description for the kind of pain I felt but remember looking down and seeing my finger opened up and bleeding. I thought he had cut off my fingers there was no much blood,” Mr. Bennani said in his statement, noting he didn’t wait to see what his nephew was going to do next and immediately started running as fast as he could through his backyard to the Canton-Potsdam Hospital emergency room.

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