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Thursday, April 3, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Puget Sound Newswatch

Police Fire Stun Guns To Stop Swordsman

SEATTLE - Hundreds of noontime spectators gathered outside a downtown restaurant today as police fired stun guns at a man who stood in a combat-ready position brandishing a samurai sword.

The incident, which snarled traffic, began shortly after 11 a.m. when an officer patrolling the area saw a man in a black jacket and camouflage pants frightening people with a sword. When the man refused to give up the weapon, the officer called for backup.

Police quickly cordoned off the area outside the Olympic Broiler at Second Avenue and Pike Street, as the crowd of shouting spectators grew.

While hostage negotiators pleaded with the man to surrender the sword, about a half-dozen officers trained rifles on him, striking him several times with what a police spokeswoman described as "little beanbag like projectiles." The nonlethal projectiles, filled with metal pellets, are designed to do no more than bruise a person.

The man appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s. At one point, shortly after noon, he took a smoke break, holding a cigarette in one hand, the sword in the other.

A woman who described herself as a friend said he had mental problems and carried the sword to ward off demons.

At 12:30, Metro buses were used to block the intersection and keep onlookers away from the scene.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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