Tuesday 23 January 2018

Irish dad a New York hero after tackling knifeman

Brian O’Donnell (p) was applauded leaving the hospital after being treated
Brian O’Donnell (p) was applauded leaving the hospital after being treated

Colleagues of an Irish New York Police Department (NYPD) detective gathered to give him a thunderous round of applause as he was released from hospital following an attack with an 11-inch meat claver.

Brian O'Donnell, originally from Co Offaly, suffered a six-inch gash from his temple to his jaw when he attempted to tackle Akram Joudeh at around 5pm on Wednesday.

He was taken to Bellevue Hospital following the incident and was released yesterday.

Det O'Donnell, who is in his 50s, was in a wheelchair as he left the facility - with the scar from the attack clearly visible on his face.


In a video of the touching moment, the officer thanked those who had gathered to show their gratitude for his bravery.

Det O'Donnell has been living in the US since the early '90s and was involved in the rescue and recovery operation after the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers.

Joudeh, from Queens, New York City, was shot several times after attacking the Irish officer.

The assailant, who has a long criminal history, was initially stopped by police near Penn Station in the middle of Manhattan as he tried to remove a wheel clamp from his illegally- parked car.

Jimmy O'Neill, NYPD police chief, said Joudeh ran through the streets around a Macy's department store in the middle of rush hour.

Officers joined in the pursuit, and one uniformed sergeant deployed a stun gun to no effect.

Joudeh then pulled out an 11-inch cleaver from his waistband and began running toward Sixth Avenue, officials said. Det O'Donnell then attempted to intervene but was struck across the face.

The dad, who lives in Long Island, was taken to hospital, where he was treated by staff for two days.

Former NYPD chief, Bill Bratton, and Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, were among those to have visited him while he was receiving treatment.

Speaking before his release, an NYPD spokesman said Det O'Donnell was "doing pretty good".

He has been a police officer for the past 16 years and he previously worked with the US Navy.

Bystander Jonathan Schneier said when he left work to get a coffee he saw a balding man holding a meat cleaver, surrounded by a small group of officers yelling at him to drop the knife. One officer had a Taser out, while others had handguns.

"I give credit to the police officers - they gave him many opportunities," Mr Schneier said. He added the man with the knife "did not look very stable".

The man turned and ran one city block, Mr Schneier said, and then jumped on top of a NYPD car.

After Det O'Donnell was struck, three uniformed officers fired a total of 18 times at Joudeh, striking him several times.

Two other officers were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries from the encounter, although it was unclear how they were injured.


Joudeh was described as being in a critical but stable condition. He has 15 prior arrests, including one on August 27, after he was found carrying knives near a synagogue. Police say he may have been living in his car.

The incident caused gridlock in central Manhattan, with streets shut and the FBI sending agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force to the scene as a precaution.

Detective O'Donnell has two sisters living in Dublin, a sister living in New York and a brother who runs a bar in Las Vegas.

He has a long and distinguished career with the NYPD and was the arresting officer when actor Christian Slater was charged with sexual harassment.

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