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Stabbing follows Lions Club meeting

Avon, N.Y. -- Wednesday evening's Lions Club meeting in Avon began in the usual way but ended with one member in the hospital and another in jail.

James Gerace, 62, is facing a second-degree assault charge following an altercation that occurred on the sidewalk of East Main Street. The victim, Charlie Leonard, was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital Wednesday night and released after receiving treatment for a stab wound to his stomach.

The Lions Club meeting began with the traditional "Tail Twister," which is a series of jokes, fines, stories or games meant to bring an upbeat tone to the meeting. Gerace was in charge of the Tail Twister Wednesday night. Following that, witnesses told 13WHAM News that the members began eating from the buffet line but Gerace and Leonard ended up in the bar area, where some suspect the beginnings of the altercation occurred.

Moments later, the two reportedly left the Avon Inn and the stabbing occurred somewhere on the sidewalk between the inn and Rebecca Sharman's home about a block away.

"The dogs bark and I see Charlie (Leonard) at my door," said Sharman, who is friends with Leonard and his wife. "It looked like he had blood on his shirt, a lot of blood, and Charlie said, 'I've been stabbed' and I said "Who stabbed you?' and he told the man's name and I said 'Come in and sit down and I'm calling police,' which is exactly what I did."

"These two individuals have known each other for some time. They're both village residents," said Avon Village Police Chief Gary Benedict Jr. "The suspect did initially leave the scene, but then he returned within a short period of time on his own and came up to the officers at the scene and identified himself and that he was involved in the incident."

Police said a pocket knife was used in the incident.

Leonard is a well-known Lions Club member, a past president of the club, according to the website, and also a past Republican Party Chairman in the Village of Avon.

Gerace is also a past president of the Lions Club. He's a member of the Village Zoning Board and on the board for Avon Ambulance, among other organizations and groups in the community.

On Thursday, 13WHAM News approached Gerace at his home. He said he feels horrible about what happened, he's sorry, and he wished it had never happened. He said he's known Leonard for years. Gerace added that he had, or planned to, immediately write letters of resignation to all community and village organizations he belonged to.

Gerace was arraigned Wednesday night and posted bail of $1,500 cash or $3,000 bond. He is due back in court next week to answer to the assault charge.

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Washington Times