UPPER WEST SIDE — A quiet Tuesday morning walking his dogs in Riverside Park turned into a frenzied confrontation with an armed homeless man for Thomas Ciriacks — the man credited with helping stop a bloody rampage that put five people in the hospital.
Ciriacks, 49, who is self-employed, said he was strolling with his 7-year-old pointer, Rincon, and 14-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Hank the Cowdog, about 7:45 a.m. in the park near West 60th Street when he noticed Julius Graham, 43, following close behind a woman wearing headphones.
"As I got close she pulled out her headphones and screams 'Help!'" Ciriacks said.
As Ciriacks moved toward the woman he noticed another man, who had been playing with his child, move toward her as well.
"We came up on this guy, me with my dogs going crazy, this [father] saying, 'Leave her alone. Leave her alone,'" Ciriacks said outside his Upper West Side apartment. "And [Graham] had her and I saw a slashing motion come across her neck," but he didn't see a knife.
At first Ciriacks thought it may have been some kind of prank, but then he noticed how distressed the woman looked and ran to her.
"He was lurching about like a zombie," said Ciriacks about Graham, who was arrested and taken to Bellevue Hospital after the attack. "His eyes were crazy."
Ciriacks and the father, James Fayette, 35, a former dancer with the New York City Ballet, persuaded Graham to lift his arms off the woman.
"Then he started coming towards me," Ciriacks said. "He took one look at my black dog who's got some teeth and he stopped in his tracks."
Ciriacks handed his dogs off to another person in the park to hold and turned back to help out.
That's when he saw Graham on top of Fayette who was covering his 2-year-old son, Luke.
"I got them separated, grabbed [Graham] and subdued him," said Ciriacks, who stands 6 foot, 3 inches and weighs 210 pounds. "[Fayette's] child had a puncture wound [on one of his forearms.]"
He said he kicked the broken scissors away and stood on Graham's arms and hands so he couldn't move.
"I was just focused on [Graham], making sure that he didn't leave, said Ciriacks. "I told him what would happen if he moved."
He wouldn't go into what he said.
"That's between me and him," Ciriacks said.
He held Graham on the ground for about five minutes until police arrived. Graham had not yet been charged, police said.
Even after his actions, Ciriacks was reluctant to call himself a hero.
"The heroic guy is the guy with the kid, because he got up, he came to this woman's aid and he had a child to protect," he said. "He's absolutely a hero."
He said he was worried about the victims.
"I feel grateful for having been able to do the right thing," he said. "I'm very concerned about the victims. I hope that everybody pulls through well."