Houston couple injured in man's wild New York City crime spree with tree branch

NEW YORK -- A Houston couple's vacation turned into a night of terror as a man went on a wild rampage with a tree branch Saturday in Manhattan.

Ernesto Nava, his girlfriend and her two girls were finishing dinner when the man ran toward them, Nava said.

The man, identified as 43-year-old Bryan Thompson, beat the couple and eight others during the ordeal, where he also damaged six vehicles, according to authorities.

Investigators charged Thompson with several counts of assault and robbery.

Police said the violent chaos started just after 6:30 p.m. on a train platform inside a subway station when Thompson struck three people over the head with the branch for no apparent reason.

He then left the station where he approached another woman and hit her in the head with the branch.

Police said Thompson then went up to a car and attacked the male driver.

The victim ran off, but left the engine running and Thompson got behind the wheel and sped off.

He lost control and crashed into two parked cars, police said. Thompson then got out and approached another vehicle and smashed the side window of the car, sending shards of glass flying, but the female driver did not let him in the car.

"We are from Houston, Texas. We came to see how everything was here in New York," Nava said. "We love New York but we are scared now."

Nava suffered a broken arm while his girlfriend received lacerations and bruising to her leg.

Thompson then approached a third vehicle parked on a street and hit it with the branch, according to police.

The driver fled and Thompson again got behind the wheel and sped off.

Nearly 30 minutes after the ordeal began, Thompson lost control of the stolen car, crashed into an NYPD radio vehicle, and hit a center median before coming to a stop, police said.

Thompson refused officers' commands to exit the vehicle, which forced them to break the driver's side window and eventually use a Taser on him, according to police.

He was taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
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