Ithaca attorney alleges while walking home, two men attempted to rob, assault him

ITHACA, N.Y. An Ithaca man says he was walking home on Hudson Street just after 11:30 p.m. on Monday night when he noticed the sound of heavy breathing close behind him.

Russell E. Maines, a local attorney, says he left his office on East Seneca Street late and proceeded to walk to his home on Prospect Street.

Nearly home, while walking uphill on Hudson Street, Maines said he could hear a person behind him, breathing heavily, who seemed to be walking a few hundred feet behind him. At the time, Maines said he did not initially interpret it as a threat, aware that many college students live in that particular area and are typically out late.

"At exactly the moment I thought the heavy breathing seemed to be a little close, I got sucker punched in the back of the head," he said.

Maines said the punch hit him behind his right ear, and then he heard a voice demanding him to empty his pockets.

Maines reportedly grabbed the person by his shirt and quickly jerked back, causing the two to tumble over a nearby embankment and into a vehicle. At this point, Maines said he felt another person grab at his pocket, demanding the contents, and was struck again in the back of the head.

In a voluntary statement, Maines said he grabbed at one of the suspects in self-defense and began yelling "police," two or three times before the two men fled downhill toward The Commons.

Maines, who sustained minor injuries from the attack, praised the Ithaca Police Department on their response to the incident.

"IPD was absolutely amazing," he said. "They were prompt, they asked highly intelligent questions and I am overwhelmed by how professional that police department is, once again."

Acting Police Chief Pete Tyler said the investigation is currently ongoing, and there has been no release of names yet.