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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There Can Be Only One: Man, Armed With Samurai Sword and 'Talking Crazy,' Assaults Cops

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge "Samurai Hotel" debuted on Saturday Night Live in 1975. On July 30 it took place in San Francisco -- for real.
  • "Samurai Hotel" debuted on Saturday Night Live in 1975. On July 30 it took place in San Francisco -- for real.
It was James Brown who famously uttered "I don't know karate but I do know ka-razy!" Well, pity the cops who encounter the man who knows both. Last week in San Francisco, it appears to have happened.

A 29-year-old man gallivanting around the hallways of the Grenada retirement hotel with a samurai sword while "talking crazy" resulted in a phalanx of San Francisco police officers storming the building. "He really scared the hell out of the old people who live at the hotel," said one of the suspect's neighbors.

The suspect was coherent enough to tell the SFPD that his weapon of choice was a replica of the Hattori Hanzo sword from Kill Bill (he ordered it after seeing the movie). "He was lucent enough to be charged and not booked for mental health issues," said Captain James Dudley of the SFPD's central station. But corralling the swordsman proved to be even harder than, say, killing Bill. 

click to enlarge A replica of the Kill Bill Hattori Hanzo sword
  • A replica of the Kill Bill Hattori Hanzo sword
After responding to calls from terrorized hotel residents in the early afternoon on July 30, cops attempted to get the swordsman to give up quietly. Pleading with him did not work, but, in a living re-enactment of Teddy Roosevelt's axiom regarding big sticks, the suspect decided to surrender when he noticed the cops' sawed-off beanbag shotgun. He had second thoughts, however, and struggled when being taken into custody, digging his fingernails into Officer Tom Cunnane's hand.

He was booked for assaulting a police officer and weapons possession charges (he also had brass knuckles, a felony). A resident of the Grendada said that this was the first such incident during the suspect's three months at the hotel. "He was a sickly type guy," said the man's neighbor. "He was always out of it. He'd fall asleep in the dining room."

Oddly enough, the suspect's Kill Bill-inspired rampage took place one day before a Quentin Tarantino film festival at the Castro Theatre featuring parts I and II of the movie.

Dudley added that incidents involving swords are "not as out of the ordinary as you would imagine" here in the city. "Every once in a while we'll get somebody exercising or performing rituals with a sword or long-bladed knife," he said. "Rather than use a bamboo sword, they'll practice with a real sword in the park."

He paused. "And we discourage that."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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