Restaurant employees were cooking up a brunch-time storm when a strange man suddenly burst from the kitchen freezer and began lunging at them with a knife, the New York Daily News reported.
The bizarre incident began at the New York City cafe Sarabeth’s around 11 a.m., according to CBS New York.
Police said it was the middle of brunch when unidentified 54-year-old man jumped out from the walk-in freezer and shouted, “Away Satan!” according to the station.
“You don’t expect this at your job,” a waiter at a restaurant next door told The New York Daily News. “You go into the freezer, and when you see someone coming out ... It’s like opening a closet and seeing someone come out like in a horror movie. You’ll get scared.”
Restaurant workers tried to calm the man, but police say he grabbed a kitchen knife and began slicing it at restaurant workers before they were able to tackle him to the ground and disarm him, PIX 11 reported. He tried to talk to the restaurant staff for a short time, CBS New York reported, before things took a turn for the worse.
As authorities rushed to the restaurant, the man lapsed into unconsciousness on the floor. He had a heart attack and died after being taken a nearby hospital, police told The New York Times.
Investigators are still not sure how he got into the freezer, how long he was there, or if he had any connection to the restaurant, NBC New York reported. No employees were hurt.
One local resident thought the man may have slipped in the back door to escape the summer heat. “The only thing I can think about is that unfortunately these back entrances sometimes are a little bit loose. It’s hot out. There’s doors open. I mean, I’ve seen this with other restaurants,” she told PIX 11.
The man is from Arizona, but police have withheld his name while family are contacted, NBC New York reported.
Sarabeth’s told the New York Daily News their staff “handled this situation bravely and ethically,” and the cafe was back open for business Monday.