NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been almost two months since a Newport News resident attacked several people with a machete. Two months later, the victims are still recovering.
“I get mad with myself, because I wonder why I opened that door,” Rochelle Bell asked.
It’s a question Bell has been asking since December 20.
“It makes me angry at times, but right now I still feel the hurt,” Bell added. “I’m still hurting behind what he did.”
That morning, there was a knock at Bell’s apartment door on Judy Drive. Through the peephole she saw her former co-worker and current neighbor Gamal Pennyfeather.
“As soon as I opened he said something and just stabbed me with the machete,” Bell said.
Bell was stabbed in the side. Her fingers cut from grabbing the machete.
“You see I’m trying to move them and they are doing nothing,” Bell added.
Doctors believe the nerve damage is permanent.
“The more we talk about it the more I can’t stop crying,” Bell said.
Though Bell is slowly healing, her bills are mounting up. The first one from the hospital was for almost $54,000.
“I can’t pay my rent,” Bell added. “I can’t live like I’m supposed to. It has me sitting here talking to you hoping that I can find some way of getting some help so I won’t lose my place.”
Bell worked as a Handi-Ride driver. She was living paycheck-to paycheck without medical insurance. It was a job she loved. A job she is no longer able to do.
“It’s hard,” Bell added. “He’s in jail and most likely he is going to get help for his mental state and I’m out here trying to figure out how to hold it together. He is going to get three meals a day, because he is going to get it. It might not be what he wants, but he will get it. He has a roof over his head and I’m struggling trying to figure out how I’m going to keep mine.”
Bell doesn’t know why Pennyfeather knocked on her door on that December morning, but it was a knock that changed her life.
“I’m not looking for pity,” Bell said. “I’m just looking for enough help to where I can get back on my feet.”
Newport News Police say Pennyfeather tried to light several apartments on fire. He assaulted two people with the machete.
Pennyfeather is facing several charges. He will be back in court next month.
Bell is going to get some help from state funds set aside for victims of violence, but that money only goes so far.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help Bell get back on her feet.