Police: City man arrested for stabbing citizen, Marine

City firefighters were washing bloodstains from the east sidewalk of Main Street this afternoon after a stabbing Thursday night left one man with stomach wounds and a quick-thinking Marine with a leg injury.

City police were flagged down by a pedestrian Thursday night near Cortland Works Career Center at 99 Main St., according to the Cortland Police Department.

There US Marine Corps Sgt. Jake Garrett was rendering first aid to another man who was stabbed, according to witnesses.

Garrett, 24, said in a phone interview with The Cortland Voice this afternoon he was working late in the Marine Recruitment Center at the Career Center when he heard a commotion outside and went out to investigate.

Outside the center two women were fighting, Garrett said.

“One was beating on the other one,” he said, adding he broke up the fight between the women and the woman who was beaten fled.

Then two men started swearing at each other and began to fight, Garrett said.

“They started swinging,” he said, adding he pulled off one of the men to stop the fight. After Garrett broke up the fight, the Sargeant noticed blood on the man’s shirt and his own arm. Both realized at the same time the 23-year-old man was stabbed in his stomach, Garrett said.

“He was all kinds of excited at that point,” Garrett said. Garrett said he calmed the man, got him to the ground and started to render first aid.

In the meantime, the other man involved in the fight fled, according to city police.

An investigation and witness statements revealed the man who fled was Mathew Sky Hewitt, 27, of 56 1/2 Groton Ave., according to a city police news release.

Hewitt used a butterfly-style knife to stab the other man in the stomach, as well as Garrett in the leg, according to the department.

Garrett said he did not realize he was stabbed until after the first responders arrived.

“At some point — I never saw the knife — when I was pulling him off I got stabbed in the knee,” Garrett said.

Hewitt was arrested shortly after 11 this morning after a tip led officers to a vacant Medes Place residence where Hewitt was found asleep, according to the department. 

Garrett and the 23-year-old man in the fight were taken to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, according to city police. The 23-year-old was taken to Upstate University Hospital where he was listed in stable condition this morning, according to the department.

Garrett was nonchalant regarding his stab wound this afternoon.

“It’s a little tender, but I’ll be alright,” he said. “I got some stitches.”

The timeliness of the police, fire and paramedics during the incident was impressive, Garrett said.

“We have some really great first responders here,” he said. “To have such a hardworking crew of individuals is phenomenal.”

The Cortland County 911 Center received a report of an assault at 10:11 p.m. and firefighters were dispatched to the scene to render medical aid at 10:14 p.m., according to the City Fire Department.

Garrett said that if the crowd of pedestrians had intervened in the fight earlier, he believes the altercation would not have escalated into a stabbing. The large volume of people would have had the upper if they chose to act, he noted.

“Instead of pulling out your phones, you could help,” Garrett said. “If you see something wrong, you really need to say something.”

With SUNY Cortland classes resuming this week, the bars on Main Street have drawn large crowds of college students and residents.

Director of Communications Fred Pierce said this afternoon SUNY Cortland is not planning on issuing any special communication to the students regarding the stabbing.

“At this time we have decided not to do anything other than ordinary because that particular incident did not involve SUNY Cortland students and the perpetrator is arrested,” Pierce said. “We basically don’t want to raise an alarm where one isn’t warranted.”

The college encourages all students to be cautious and safe, Pierce said, using orientation, the University Police Department and other platforms to spread the message.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday night usually draws large crowds of students and residents to bars and restaurants downtown.

Hewitt was charged with first-degree and second-degree assault, both felonies, as well as misdemeanor third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, according to the police department. At the time of the stabbing, a warrant was already issued for Hewitt for failing to properly register as a sex offfender, the department noted.

Hewitt was arraigned this afternoon in City Court, remanded to Cortland County Correctional Facility and is scheduled to reappear at 9 a.m. Sept. 4th in court.

City firefighter Chris Buttino washes blood from the sidewalk Friday afternoon on Main Street.

City firefighter Brandon Casterline washes blood from the sidewalk Friday afternoon on Main Street.