York County elementary school principal recalls machete attack

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On February 2, 2001, Norina Bentzel’s life changed forever.

“I noticed this man coming in the building and he looked like he was confused. I asked him if I could help him, and that’s when he turned on me and he started to attack me,” she said.

That man, William Michael Stankewicz, slashed Bentzel’s arms and fingers and shattered her wrist with a two-foot long machete. He went on to attack several others, most of them kindergartners. Bentzel was able to stop his rampage before anyone was killed.

“He at one point turned his back from me, and that’s when I yelled, ‘help me get him down.’ And I jumped on his back,” she said.

When news broke of the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut Friday, Bentzel said it felt like it was all happening again.

“We are reliving this again. The emotions that go with that are very strong. My salvation had been that no one died in my school that day. These people do not have that,” she said.

As teachers and students in Connecticut work to come to terms with the tragedy, Bentzel said she hopes to offer any help and advice she can.

“It is a lifelong event. It will never end. It is now and forever for these people. If there is anything I can do, if I need to go there, I would do that in a heartbeat if I could help them,” she said.