CENTRAL HARLEM — Police subdued a naked, knife-wielding man after he ran into a Harlem playground filled with children during of the middle of the afternoon Thursday, stunned witnesses said.
A crowd chased the man, who was wearing only a shirt and boxer shorts at the time, into the park at Lenox Avenue about 3:12 p.m., according to multiple witnesses.
He then pushed an elderly man to the ground before running into Martin Luther King Playground at West 114th Street, witnesses added.
“He went into the sprinkler and took his clothes off. My daughter was scared,” said Nieejah Johnson, 22, who was in the park with her 5-year-old and 6-year-old daughters.
Terrified parents grabbed their kids and started to run from the man, they said.
Police quickly showed up and tried to subdue the man, according to witnesses.
“They pepper sprayed him and he kept walking,” Johnson said.
Several witnesses then said they saw the man walk out of the park and into the middle of Lenox Avenue, swinging a knife.
A female officer shot him with what appeared to be a stun gun and he fell to the ground, the witnesses added.
“He fell hard,” said Tim Vocals, 25. “He was shaking on the ground.”
Police and fire officials were seen strapping a man onto a stretcher and loading him into an ambulance. An FDNY spokesman said the man was taken to Harlem Hospital.
Residents said they relieved police intervened quickly.
“Thank God they got him,” said Johnson. “My daughter is very scared. She is not used to any of that.”
An NYPD said they did not have any immediate information on the incident.