Customer at Market in Springfield Cuts Off His Hand
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Igbal Asghar reached across the counter at Super Halal Meat market and passed two butchered chickens to the man with the familiar face. Then he ducked into the walk-in freezer to fetch the customer's second order, goat meat.
When the butcher stepped out seconds later, the customer's severed left hand lay on the floor by the meat saw, Asghar said. The customer ran down the Springfield store's center aisle and into the front parking lot, leaving a trail of blood and yelling repeatedly that he was "not a terrorist." Outside, another witness said, the man announced that he had used the meat saw to cut off his hand "for Allah."
Rescue workers arrived minutes after the incident Saturday evening and took the man -- and his detached hand -- to Inova Fairfax Hospital. Fairfax County police declined to comment or release the man's name yesterday, saying no charges would be filed. Those who saw the action unfold remained jarred.
Asghar said the man's son told him that evening that his father was on medication for mental problems. Dan Schmidt, a spokesman for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, said authorities believe the man had mental health problems. Schmidt said he did not know whether doctors planned to try to re-attach the man's hand.
"I don't know what happened to that guy," Asghar, 45, said as he leaned yesterday against a stack of Pakistan Link newspapers at the small strip mall store in the Franconia area, which caters to customers from India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. "We are shaking still when we are talking about it."
Nothing seemed amiss when the man approached the meat counter with his teenage son, Asghar said. The butcher said he recognized the man, whose name he did not know, as a fellow Pakistani. The man chatted on a cellphone as Asghar cut his chicken.
Suddenly, the man was racing toward the front of the store, past jars of turmeric powder and boxes of date-filled cookies. Manager Sohail Afzal, 28, who was helping a customer, grabbed the phone and called police.
With his son following, the man went into the parking lot, where Vikas Sinsunwal, 18, was hanging out with a group of friends in front of his parents' store, Niralla Sweets. The young men were admiring a friend's new motorcycle, Sinsunwal said, when the man walked coolly toward them. The man was holding aloft his bleeding left arm -- sliced several inches above the wrist -- and using his right hand to hold up a photo identification badge that hung around his neck.
"We thought it was fake," Sinsunwal said of the limb. Then they heard the man mumbling calmly but angrily in a mixture of English and Urdu about working in the area and his children attending school here.
"He said, 'I did this for Allah' -- God," Sinsunwal said.
Startled, the friends rushed inside Niralla Sweets, which sells pastel treats adorned with almond slices. The man followed.
As his son tried to calm him, the man stood outside the store's large windows, holding the badge and showing no sign of pain, Sinsunwal said. His sister, Shivani Sinsunwal, 20, called police as frightened customers begged her not to let the man inside.