Machete-wielding Man Attacks Diners in Israeli-owned Ohio Restaurant

Hany Baransi, owner of the Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, describes the machete attack, February 11, 2016.
Hany Baransi, owner of the Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, describes the machete attack, February 11, 2016.Credit: AP

Police shot and killed a man who stormed into a central Ohio restaurant wielding a machete and randomly attacking people as they sat unsuspectingly at their dinner tables, authorities said.

Four people were injured in the brutal attack Thursday evening at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, a Mediterranean restaurant in Columbus. The victims were taken to an area hospital and were expected to recover.

According to local news reports, Israeli native Hany Baransi opened the restaurant 27 years ago.

Police said the attacker walked into the restaurant, had a conversation with an employee and then left. He returned about a half hour later. That's when police said he approached a man and a woman who were sitting just inside the door at a booth and started the attack.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack. "There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after," said Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner.

However, according to WBNS-TV, Baransi said the act seemed pre-meditated.

"Thirty minutes before he came and did the attack, he came in looked around, asked where I was from. Asked about our food, and where was I," the restaurant owner was quoted as saying.

As the attack occurred, police said employees and patrons tried to get the man to stop.

"Some of the patrons there started throwing chairs at him just trying to get him out of there," Weiner said.

The man eventually fled the scene in a white car and led police on a short chase. Officers forced him off the road a few miles away and when he got out of his car police said they tried unsuccessfully to use a stun gun on him.

Weiner said, "At that point he had a machete and another knife in his hand and he lunged across the hood at the officers."

That's when police said an officer shot and killed the man. They did not immediately release his name.

The restaurant is known in the community for its multiculturalism and its embrace of Israeli, Jewish and Arab Muslim culture.

WBNS-TV reported that guests entering the restaurant are greeted by a small Israeli flag and the Arabic greeting "Ahlan wa shalan," which losely translates to "You are my family, take it easy."

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