NEW YORK (AP) — A 76-year-old man yelling that the government was going to take his house slit his wrists outside NBC’s “Today” show Thursday morning before he was taken into police custody, police said.
The man, Pak Chong-Mar, was in the crowd on Rockefeller Plaza outside the “Today” studio and also was yelling about how the Internal Revenue Service was corrupt and ruined his life, authorities said. He took out a knife and sliced at his wrists, police said.
“I need people to help me fight for justice,” Pak told the Daily News of New York from his hospital bed afterward. “If I don’t do something drastic, sooner or later these guys are going to kill me anyway. I couldn’t even pay rent this month.”
His daughter sat nearby and told the newspaper what had happened was “sad.”
Authorities and witnesses said police and plaza security guards quickly subdued the man. Some bystanders in the crowd were treated for exposure to blood. Police took the man to a hospital where his mental health was being evaluated. His injuries were not life threatening.
“I saw him take slice after slice. I saw the blood gushing,” witness Kellie Ostransky told The New York Post. Ostransky, who lives near Phoenix, was in town to celebrate her birthday with her twin sister, the newspaper reported.
Authorities said the man’s behavior was not believed to have been caught on television. The show moves inside and outside the studio to the plaza.
“Today” show host Matt Lauer explained to viewers at one point that the show was brought inside the studio because of “an incident” on the plaza. He said a man tried to harm himself with a knife but was taken into custody and the plaza was secure.
Lauer later sent another Twitter message that read: “All secure on the plaza after a scary incident. Thanks to our security team and the NYPD.” NBC News said in a statement: “We have strict security protocols in place to protect visitors to the Today show and those procedures were followed and effective.”