In an apparent prank, two men staged a stabbing in the crowded Terakawa Ramen restaurant on 40th street, causing some Penn students to flee the crowded restaurant and run outside on Nov. 13.
On Nov. 17, Philadelphia Police announced they would issue arrest warrants for the two men involved, with plans to charge them with risking a catastrophe and false reporting, 6ABC reported. The night of the staged stabbing, however, students said police told them the men were not arrested and would not be charged with a crime unless Terakawa pressed charges.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., students said a man in his late teens ran into the restaurant screaming, “Somebody help me.” He wore a white shirt with what looked like a large bloodstain. Immediately following him was another man around the same age, who looked like he was about to stab or shoot the other man, students at the restaurant said.
Some Penn students fled out the back door while others ducked under the table. One of the students at a table near to the door was Wharton senior Lea Chen. She said that she and her friend dove under the table within 20 seconds of the two men entering the restaurant.
“It felt so real, I literally thought I was going to die,” Chen said.
Chen said that the man pursuing the other teen was holding something that she believed was a gun or knife. When she emerged from the table, both men had exited the restaurant. Penn students at a nearby table said they saw the men had been laughing, which is when Chen first realized that the stabbing might have been a prank.
“The fact they thought it was funny," Chen said. "I thought that was ridiculous.”
College seniors Ariel Epstein and Morgan Savige were seated at a table with two other friends at the back of the restaurant when the two men entered.
Savige said that when someone yelled "run," she and her friends hurried out the back door, along with about 20 other Penn students. Epstein and her friends decided to continue moving past the back door, several blocks down the street to Hamilton Court in case it was still dangerous.
“It was absolutely insane,” Epstein said.
Savige said she overturned a table when she was trying to flee the restaurant. The group left their phones and belongings at the restaurant, and went back to retrieve them after about 45 minutes.
Chen said that the Terakawa manger spoke to them about 10 minutes after the incident and explained that the police had told him the students staged the incident to film a video. The video was posted on Instagram but has since been taken down.
“The fact that they were trying to make some sort of viral video, I thought that was ridiculous, that teenagers feel like they need to do that,” Chen said.
Police officers came in to talk to people at the restaurant about the incident about an hour after it had occurred. Epstein said they told patrons that the men faked the stabbing for a video.
“I was super pissed off because these two people are trying to get a Youtube video and we all thought we were going to die,” she said.
Epstein said she felt like she was traumatized by what happened even though she knows that it was not a real stabbing.
“Even going back to the restaurant, I’m freaked out about being that close to the door. I was like, if this happens for real, I’m not going to be able to get out,” Epstein said.
Chen agreed, adding that she might not go back to the Terakawa restaurant for a while. She said she thought the prank was "horrible" and very realistic given the recent number of mass shootings.
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