Vevay man held on charge of attempted murder

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A Vevay man is being held in the Switzerland County Detention Center after an altercation last Friday night that left another man in critical condition.

Tony A. McAlister, 51, of Vevay, was arrested and charged with multiple offenses including attempted murder, a Level 1 felony; aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; Battery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, a Level 5 felony; Battery With a Deadly Weapon, a Level 5 felony; and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Class C misdemeanor.

McAlister appeared in Switzerland County Circuit Court on Monday, and bond was set at $100,000.

The arrest was made in connection with an altercation with Bruce L. Thomas, 58, also of Vevay. He was transported from the scene by AirCare helicopter to University Hospital in Louisville, where he is listed in critical condition.

In the Probable Cause Affidavit filed in Switzerland County Circuit Court on Monday, investigators laid out the details of the incident.

According to the affidavit, on Friday night, May 8th, at approximately 10:35 p.m., Vevay Town Officer Shelby Rickerson observed a vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 56 with an improper headlight. Also noticing that the vehicle was weaving erratically, she initiated a traffic stop near the Cowboys (now Vevay Marathon) station on the west side of Vevay.

As the officer began to approach the vehicle, she observed a person ‘flailing’ in the back seat of the auto. At that point Officer Rickerson spoke with the driver, identified as Tony McAlister. The affidavit also states that she heard the person in the back seat yell out, “Help Me!”

Asked to explain what was going on, the affidavit states that McAlister explained that he was driving Thomas to the hospital, and that Thomas had charged at McAlister with a knife, “in an attempt to kill him”, but that McAlister had managed to take the knife away from Thomas. McAlister then stated that he had used the knife to ‘poke’ Thomas a few times in self-defense.

After Officer Rickerson placed McAlister in handcuffs, Vevay officer Nick Kitts arrived at the scene, and observed that Thomas was bleeding heavily from an apparent stab wound to the neck. Switzerland County EMS arrived, and found additional stab wounds on Thomas in the chest and abdomen area.

As officers began to investigate what happened, they knew that the two men were neighbors, with McAlister living on Ferry Street and Thomas living on Jackson Street. Arriving at the homes, officers secured the area; and while securing each property, Vevay Officer John Pritchard reported that he had discovered a large amount of blood in the back yards of both residences.

While awaiting the search warrants, Vevay Police Chief James Richards was notified that a person was at Cuzz’s Bar talking in detail about an incident between McAlister and Thomas. Locating that person, Chief Richards conducted an interview, and the person agreed to cooperate and told the Chief that he had been in McAlister’s home; and that at one point McAlister left the residence in an agitated state; then returned a short time later, still angry. At that point McAlister told the person to get in McAlister’s vehicle, and the two began to drive around Vevay.

The person told authorities that McAlister was driving erratically and at a high rate of speed southbound on Ferry Street; then turned westbound onto Market Street; and then north onto Liberty Street towards Main Street. At Main Street, the person stated that, fearing for his safety, he jumped out of the vehicle. At that point, he said that McAlister turned and went east on State Road 56, and the person did not know where McAlister went after that.

Upon gaining the proper search warrants, officers then searched the homes of McAlister and Thomas, and the affidavit states that officers observed two large blood pools in the backyard of Thomas’ home, and also located a ‘blood trail’ leading into McAlister’s back yard.

The affidavit states that investigators found pocket knife lying on a picnic table.

Another person provided information that she had been in Thomas’ house earlier that evening, and that McAlister had come into the house and that when seeing McAlister, Thomas immediately ordered him to leave his home. The second person said that she believed that the two men were not getting along due to a recent incident involving McAlister and Thomas’ sister. The second person also believed that her presence might have enflamed the situation, because she used to live at McAlister’s house.

The second person said that the two men exchanged a few more words, but the McAlister left without incident. The second person said that she remained at Thomas’ home until approximately 9:30 p.m., and later phoned Thomas to tell him that she had arrived home safely. During the time of that phone call, she said that Thomas told her that McAlister was again back at Thomas’ house.

The second person told authorities that she attempted to call Thomas again a short time later, but did not get an answer.

A third person came forward and told authorities that she was walking her dog at approximately 10 p.m. on Friday night in the vicinity of the two homes. The affidavit states that as she passed by the homes, she head a male’s voice call out “Help Me!”. She said that she paused briefly, but was unsure of what to do. She heard the voice call out three more times.

At that point, the third person told investigators that she heard the sound of a car starting, and looked to see McAlister’s car pull onto Liberty Street and head in a southbound direction.

Authorities believe that what the third person saw happened moments before Officer Rickerson stopped the vehicle on West Main Street.

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Notes: It should be noted that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Also: Vevay Media Group has chosen to not identify by name the three people who provided information to authorities during the investigation that led to the filing of the Probable Cause Affidavit.

Anyone having any information about this incident is urged to contact the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Office at (812) 427-3636.