By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — MARBLEHEAD — A confrontation between roommates about $300 in overdue rent spiraled into a bloody fracas on Thursday night when one attacked the other with a rusty ax, police say.
Police officers were dispatched to 296 Washington St. at about 9:40 p.m. after a report of a disturbance in a first-floor apartment. They were met at the door by an intoxicated woman who was “extremely upset” and had blood on her hands, face and clothes, according to a police reports on the incident.
Further inside the apartment, officers found two men bloodied men washing themselves off at the sink.
“The kitchen was covered in blood,” Lt. Michael Everett said in his report. “Blood was covering the floors, walls, counter tops, ceilings and items within the kitchen.”
“There was so much blood that it was coagulating,” Everett said.
Officers determined that one of the men had sustained a wound to his right wrist, which was still “gushing” blood as he tried to wash it off. They took the man who didn’t appear to be wounded into the living room, discovering a bloody ax in the process.
The man, identified as Michael Kelley, 52, admitted to striking his roommate with the ax during an argument over rent money he owed, saying “the fight wasn’t a big deal, it’s just a fight between roommates,” Officer Daniel Katz said in his report. Kelley also attributed the fight to the presence of his ex-girlfriend, according to the report.
Police arrested Kelley, who resides at 296 Washington St., Apt. 1A, Marblehead, on charges of aggravated assault and battery, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and domestic assault.
The victim was rushed to Salem Hospital and then transported to Massachusetts General Hospital. A doctor there said he had a “radial artery out” and would be operated on sometime yesterday, police said. The injury — actually two slice wounds — was called non-life-threatening.
Kelley said the confrontation began as an argument, progressed to a shoving match, and then the unidentified victim hit him with his fists, a shovel and a guitar, Katz said.
Kelley said he “got tired” of being assaulted, so he picked up the ax and hit his roommate with it, said Katz. He also quoted Kelley as saying, “If someone was pushing you around like that, you would do the same.”
Police said the victim wrestled with Kelley after the attack in an attempt to get the ax from him.
Kelley was being held without bail on Thursday night and was expected to be arraigned in Lynn District Court yesterday.