KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Witnesses describe a scary scene: a man attacking cars and drivers at a busy intersection on the University of Tennessee campus, with his hands covered in blood.
“I was terrified,” Scottie McCormick said.
The University of Tennessee senior was in the car where cell phone video of the incident was taken.
“My immediate reaction was to roll down the window and see if this guy was okay, but my friend who was with me told me not to do that and to lock the doors. And I’m glad I did because as soon as we did that, he had gone up to the car directly in front of us and opened it and tried to grab this woman out,” McCormick said.
Another car on the man’s path had Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett inside.
“All of a sudden the guy walks up beside my car and kicks it and hollers and tries to break the glass out. And his hand was bleeding all over the place and it was out of the ordinary so I didn’t really soak it all in just then,” Burchett said.
The mayor proceeded to call 911, but when police arrived on scene, the violence continued.
“The guy started throwing punches at the cop, so finally the cop had to tase him, because he wouldn’t stop and he was in the middle of the road,” McCormick said. “Cars were going each way. People were having to stop in the middle of an intersection. It was getting dangerous.”
The man got physical with UT Police, even assaulting an officer. That officer tased the subject to get him under control.
“UT police were very professional,” Burchett said. “That kid could have died because you’re climbing in people’s cars in East Tennessee could shoot you and there was no telling what he was going to do.”
The man was taken into custody but his identity is still a mystery to officers. UTPD says the man did not have ID on him and was being combative with police and hospital staff Tuesday night. He was later identified as UT student Nofl Hassan Alatyah, 19.
Police have three pending warrants for the suspect. Those charges are for disorderly conduct, aggravated assault and impeding a highway, but the warrants cannot be issued until police can positively identify the suspect.
Knoxville Police Department said a total of two cars were vandalized and two female drivers were assaulted. Those who saw the chaotic scene unfold say they are just grateful that the situation did not take a different turn.
“He was acting violent and it could have been me who he was trying to pull out of the car, and I’m just really glad that it didn’t get to that point, and I’m glad that everyone is okay,” McCormick said.