West Virginia man jailed after knife incident

Hart taken into custody after struggle with police

An incident with a knife over the weekend at a Park Hills Plaza restaurant has landed a West Virginia man in jail.

Logan Township police responded to Denny’s in the Park Hills Plaza about 1 a.m. Sunday after a call about a man with a knife who was yelling in the restaurant.

Police took 31-year-old Richard E. Hart into custody outside the restaurant after a struggle and he faces a felony aggravated assault charge along with counts of terroristic threats, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Nick “Manic” McCune, a Hollidaysburg professional wrestler, had just finished a show at Building II with Phoenix Pro Wrestling when he walked into Denny’s and ran into a longtime fan who appeared to be upset. She told McCune that a man in the back of the restaurant had made inappropriate comments to her, then made a reference about seeing her outside and she told the manager.

“I went to sit next to the dude, then I saw he had a giant knife on him and he started ranting and rambling,” the 32-year-old McCune said. McCune said he alerted his girlfriend to call police.

According to Logan Township police, as officers were en route, they were told by dispatchers that the man was telling customers he had a knife and not to get near him.

When a Logan Township officer arrived, he recognized Hart from an encounter with the man on Saturday at the Logan Valley Mall and knew from that incident that Hart had a pocket knife on him.

Police said Hart complied when the officer told him to step outside, but when the first responding officer tried to put him in handcuffs, Hart allegedly tried to pull away and struggled.

McCune said he also walked outside and when he saw the struggle, he didn’t know what to do at first because he didn’t want to get in trouble. As the second officer arrived on scene, McCune said he leaned on the arm of Hart, who by this time was on his stomach, to help keep the man’s arm still so he could be handcuffed.

Police said once Hart was handcuffed, he continued to struggle with police and kicked one officer in the thigh and an Allegheny Township officer in the groin and stomach.

After he was subdued by multiple officers, Hart allegedly told police as they drove him to the Logan Township Police Depart­ment that the next time officers arrested him he would shoot them. Hart also said he’d kick officers once they tried to get him out of the patrol vehicle again, according to the charges.

Denny’s spokesman Michael Simpson provided a statement on the incident, citing the quick response of police.

“They responded quickly and apprehended a guest on the premises,” Simpson noted in the statement. “The safety of our guests and team members is of the utmost importance and we are grateful to the authorities for their quick response.”

Police said Hart is believed to be from West Virginia but it was not known where he lives in that state.

Hart was arraigned Sunday and lodged in Blair County Prison with a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Steven Jackson scheduled for Thursday. His bail remains at $20,000 cash.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.

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