FELTON, Pa. -- A former Baltimore school teacher was charged yesterday with using a machete in an attack at an elementary school in which the principal, two teachers and six pupils were injured.
William Michael Stankewicz, 56, of Johnson City, Tenn., was subdued by school officials and arrested by police about noon after the attack at North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School south of York.
He was being held last night on $2 million bond, police said. He is charged with two counts of attempted murder, seven counts of aggravated assault and with bringing a weapon into a school.
"I had nothing in my hand. I will not admit that," Stankewicz told reporters before his arraignment.
The school, which has about 320 pupils and 50 staff members, was closed for the day as parents retrieved children and police scoured the scene for evidence.
Police said at least five of the injured children are kindergartners.
Stankewicz, who lived in the York area at one time, has no confirmed connection to the school, authorities said. He had had run-ins with local police and had served two years in federal prison for threatening people, including his estranged wife, her lawyer, a congressman and an immigration official.
"We don't know what his motives were at this time," said Thomas Kelley, first assistant district attorney for York County. He said he was unaware of any relationship between Stankewicz and anyone working at or attending the rural York County school.
The brick-and-concrete school's front doors are locked during classes, but the man apparently managed to get inside by walking in behind a parent, said Pennsylvania state trooper Linette Quinn.
Once inside the school's lobby, staff members saw the machete and confronted him. The ensuing struggle spilled into a kindergarten classroom, she said. He was eventually subdued, but not before several children and others were injured, police said.
North Hopewell Police Chief Larry Bailets, the first officer to respond to the 911 call, said the intruder had been subdued by the time he arrived. He praised the principal, Norina Bentzel, and Linda Collier, a kindergarten teacher, as "heroic" for tackling the attacker.
The three injured staffers were taken to Memorial Hospital in York, according to a spokeswoman. Bentzel, 41, was slashed on the arm and hand and had one finger nearly severed. She was transported to Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. Her condition was not immediately available.
Collier, 52, required surgery for cuts to her hand. A third-grade teacher, Stacey Bailey, 33, suffered minor injuries and was treated and released.
The children were not severely injured, the school district said in a statement. Four 5-year-olds with minor cuts were taken to York Hospital by ambulance, and one 6-year-old was taken to the hospital by a parent. The sixth child's age and injuries could not be learned.
"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense," said Glenna Grove of Winterstown, whose daughter Tiffany is a fifth-grader at the school. "They heard screams, and they were scared to death."
"You don't think it's ever going to happen to you, but when it hits home it makes you think," Grove said.
According to the York Daily Record, Stankewicz taught in Baltimore schools for 21 years, most recently at Northern High School. Baltimore school officials said they were checking their records last night.
The suspect lived in the York area until 1996, when he went to prison for making threats after the breakup of his mail-order marriage to a woman from Kazakstan, according to court records.
He was originally sentenced to nine months in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg in 1995 to threatening his estranged wife, Larisa; her lawyer; an official of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service; and Rep. William Goodling of Pennsylvania. But he violated the terms of his probation and was required to serve two more years, the records show.
Steven Converse, Larisa Stankewicz's lawyer, said it is possible that his client's two children from a previous marriage attended North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary while she and William Stankewicz were living together.
The incident shook the rural community of 600, where many residents commute to York or Baltimore.
"It's not the kind of publicity we want to see," said Dean Keeny, North Hopewell's mayor and a self-employed contractor.
The township was the scene of a "hex murder" in 1928, when a resident and two accomplices killed another resident they believed was practicing witchcraft. Last year, a man took his wife hostage here then fatally shot himself after a five-hour standoff with police.
Sun staff researchers Jean Packard and Paul McCardell and the Associated Press contributed to this article.