New York’s Times Square was the site of a surreal scene Saturday afternoon as the police gunned down a knife-wielding man who was threatening police and people on the street. The scene ended with the man falling in a barrage of police bullets at 37th Street and Seventh Avenue, horrifying onlookers and giving them a memorable New York City experience.
The man was a familiar troubled figure to Times Square regulars, who said he sometimes wore a t-shirt that said “ninjas killed my family” and sometimes dressed as a ninja himself.
Witnesses said he led the police on a bizarre chase through the streets of Times Square, at times threatening bystanders with his large knife. At one point as the police gave chase, they were followed by a throng of witnesses who were recording the strange scene with cameras and cellphones. Even the tourists on the red double-decker bus got an eyeful.
“He was swinging at people as he ran,” Jobby Nogver, 17, visiting from Boston, told reporters from the Times. Nogver saw about a dozen police officers surround the man and begin to shoot. “I can’t tell you how many shots,” he said. “It was a lot.”
Karon Rakes, 43, from Cleveland, told the Times that the man was taunting the police.
“He just started saying, ‘Come on, come get me,’ ” she said.
Priscilla Rocha of Brazil said the crowd began running and ducking behind parked cars and in doorways when they saw the police had their guns drawn.
“I almost had a heart attack,” she said. “Everyone started running.”
“Some people were crouching near an office building,” said Lincoln Rocha of Brazil. “But others took out the cellphone cameras to try and capture it.”
While the NYPD confirmed that the man died in the encounter, they wouldn’t say how many shots were fired or what led the police to shoot him.
The use of deadly force by the police will certainly be questioned, but at least one eyewitness, Dave Basso, 41, of Cleveland, said that he believed the police had no choice but to shoot the man.
“He was either going to get shot or he was going to take someone hostage,” he said.