NEW YORK — A 54-year-old Arizona man died after jumping out of a freezer and attacking an employee with a kitchen knife Sunday at a popular restaurant in Manhattan, police said.
The man shouted, “Away, Satan!” and grabbed the knife after an employee opened the walk-in freezer at Sarabeth’s on the Upper West Side around 11 a.m., police said. Workers who heard the commotion came and wrestled the man to the floor and took away the knife, according to police.
During the brunch-time struggle, the man lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest, police said. He was rushed to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Police did not release the name of the man, who was from Cave Creek, and said he appeared to have mental health issues. Investigators were trying to determine how he got into the freezer and how long he had been there.
No restaurant workers or patrons were injured, police said.
The restaurant, on Amsterdam Avenue between West 80th Street and 81st Street, is part of a long-established New York chain and was open for brunch at the time.
Tables outside Sarabeth’s were still set with salt and pepper shakers Sunday afternoon, hours after it was evacuated and closed. A receipt had been left on one of them. The restaurant was blocked with crime scene tape, and a police officer stood at its entrance as investigators went in and out.
Carrie Fondu, 34, who lives across the street, said patrons at Hamsa, the pop-up restaurant next door, were still sitting outside and eating after the incident while a handful of ambulances, police cars and a fire truck parked outside.
“We thought maybe someone choked,” she said.