A deranged knife-wielding man was gunned down by police Saturday after a bizarre backward chase that sent terrified tourists scrambling for safety near Times Square, cops said.
The unidentified man was fatally shot at 3 p.m. on a Seventh Ave. sidewalk after ignoring orders to drop his weapon — and then moving menacingly toward police, said NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.
A witness said the suspect, who was walking backward for blocks, appeared impervious to police pepper spray and refused to surrender his 10-inch butcher knife.
“He looked like he was crazy,” said Jobby Nogueras, 17, who joined a crowd of onlookers watching the strange showdown at the corner of W. 37th St. “They sprayed him, and he kept going backwards.
“They kept telling him, ‘Put it down! Put it down!’ But he refused.”
The suspect died at Bellevue Hospital about 40 minutes after the shooting, Browne said, confirming that blasts of pepper spray failed to slow the dreadlocked man.
Frightened pedestrians ran for cover into nearby buildings as the man — his knife held aloft like a torch at one point — inexplicably ambled backward for seven blocks, witnesses said.
“He was holding a giant knife,” said Nogueras. “He was swinging it toward everyone — pedestrians, cops. He would just swing.”
A doorman at a nearby Seventh Ave. building said the man — wearing jeans and a white T-shirt — kept waving the knife in front of him.
Cops ordered him to drop the blade, but the man continued on his way — and then the gunshots rang out in quick succession.
There was no report of any police officers injured in the mayhem that erupted on a steamy, summer day just south of Times Square.
Witnesses said the suspect was shot at least five times. At least 15 shell casings were on the sidewalk outside 501 Seventh Ave., where the cops opened fire.
“He just fell backward, with his arms out,” said Robert James, 20, who works on W. 38th St. “It was crazy. . . . He had bullet holes all over, and blood all over his shirt.”
The number of officers chasing the man grew along the route, with the suspect unfazed by the police approaching with their guns drawn.
The number of witnesses swelled, too, as the strange spectacle unfolded.
“The guy was in the middle of the street,” said James, of East New York.
A police van and patrol car blocked his path at W. 37th St. and Seventh Ave., setting up the lethal showdown, witnesses said.
The shooting comes one day after heroic NYPD Sgt. Craig Bier was released from a Queens hospital after suffering gunshot wounds to both legs during a shootout. The suspect in the case remains at large.
Source: NY Daily News