NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man was hospitalized and hit with criminal charges Friday, after police said he was spotted swinging and dropping a Samurai sword on the stairs at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store.
As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, police said the man walked into the Apple Store, on the ground floor of the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Ave., and threatened to kill himself before taking out the sword and waving it around.
The man was seen on video with the sword in the middle of the glass-enclosed spiral staircase at the center of the Apple Store. He brought the packed store to a standstill around 4 p.m., police said.
Wearing a hat and sunglasses, was seen swinging the sword before dropping it to the floor. He then picked up the sword and began swinging it again as he descended the stairs.
When the customers saw the man wielding the sword, one person said they thought it was performance art. But when he started swinging the saber at customers and screaming and counting like he had a bomb, everyone went running for cover.
In video captured at the scene, police sand security personnel were seen following the man up the spiral staircase.
“When he pulls out this sword, I mean, I’m telling you — the blade was this big,” said witness Nancy Birnbaum as she held her arms far apart.
“He was right on top of me on the glass stairs, so I basically looked up and all I saw was him swinging a sword at people,” added witness Lois Apolo.
Apolo said customers rushed to the emergency exits when the man counted out loud like he had a bomb.
“He instead got on his knees and he tried to puncture himself with the sword, and started to count upwards from one till 10,” Apolo said.
Two off-duty NYPD officers tackled the man and removed his decorative saber. The man – Hsu Chien, 30, was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center for a psychiatric evaluation and was charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
Witnesses said it all happened within a matter of minutes, and the popular flagship Apple Store never closed.
Throughout the evening, uniformed officers and security patrolled the plaza along Fifth Avenue.
And New Yorkers said they thought they had seen everything until now.
“I’ve been in New York City for nine days now,” said tourist Joel Glazer. “You see something new every day, but this is shocking.”
The incident did little to deter people from visiting the Apple Store, which was packed for the rest of the night. One man even told CBS2 he had been waiting for help for over an hour.