A Cantonment man was charged with aggravated battery and robbery with a deadly weapon for allegedly attacking a woman with a machete after she refused to give him money.
Lorenzo McNeal Jr., 47, was booked into the Escambia County Jail on New Year’s Day for an incident that occurred Dec. 3.
A warrant was issued for McNeal’s arrest after the woman reported that he allegedly struck her several times with a machete and took off with her debit cards, cash and two cellphones she handed over in fear for her life.
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According to an affidavit, the woman told Escambia County Sheriff's Office deputies that she knew McNeal from the neighborhood and was visiting with him the morning of Dec. 3 when he started asking her about money she received from a recent lawsuit.
The woman stated in the report that she felt uncomfortable with McNeal talking about needing money and needing to pay his rent, so she left and went to a neighbor's house. McNeal allegedly showed up a short time later and asked her to go to the bank with him to give him money.
The affidavit said McNeal got irritated and told the woman she had “34 minutes” to get her belongings and go with him to the bank. When the woman refused, McNeal allegedly told her and a witness several times that he would kill both of them and threatened to burn down the home.
The woman turned her back to McNeal and attempted to move away as the argument continued. The affidavit said McNeal pulled out a machete he had been hiding behind his back and struck the woman in her upper back with the dull side of the blade.
McNeal then turned the blade over and continued to swing the machete violently at the woman as she attempted to block the strikes by putting her left foot in the air. McNeal allegedly struck the bottom of her foot, causing a deep laceration.
The woman told deputies she gave McNeal two debit cards, two cellphones and $500 in cash she had out of fear for her life. McNeal then fled on foot and the woman went out the back door of the home to a neighbor’s house to get help. The woman's foot was treated onsite by EMS.
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As the deputy interviewed the woman, he observed a large amount of smoke coming from the home where McNeal allegedly assaulted her. A witness at an adjoining property claimed to see an unknown male jumping the fence to run away at the same time he noticed the fire.
The state fire marshal investigated the fire and determined the cause to be arson, the affidavit said.
McNeal is being held on $350,000 total bond for the aggravated battery and robbery charges. Arrest and court records do not show any current pending charges related to the arson.
Reporter Jennifer Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Lorenzo McNeal Jr charged in aggravated battery and robbery in Cantonment