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Spanish tourist in New York beaten with hammer in 'random act of brutality'

An unemployed man in a business suit abruptly pulled out a hammer and beat a Spanish tourist eating lunch with his girlfriend in a New York park until bystanders wrestled the hammer away.

NEW YORK // An unemployed man in a business suit abruptly pulled out a hammer and beat a Spanish tourist eating lunch with his girlfriend in a New York park until bystanders wrestled the hammer away, according to prosecutors.

John Yoos, his head shaved and wearing his navy blue suit, said nothing as a prosecutor described the bizarre, unprovoked attack on a man who had no connection to Mr Yoos beyond sitting next to him on a park bench.

"This is a completely random act of brutal violence on a total stranger," Allison Altmann, the Manhattan assistant district attorney, said.

Ms Altmann said the tourist, Hugo Alejandre, was on a bench in City Hall Park on Monday when Yoos stood up and started hitting him in the head with the hammer's claw end.

"He did it over and over again," she said.

After Mr Alejandre fell to the ground, Mr Yoos whacked him in the back and hit his girlfriend when she tried to help him, the prosecutor said. Bystanders intervened and pried the hammer away.

Mr Alejandre, from Barcelona, was treated at a hospital for a spinal fracture, deep gashes to his face and cuts on his chest and arms. He declined to comment as he left the Manhattan district attorney's office on Tuesday.

Mr Yoos, 43, was arrested nearby, and police collected the bloody hammer plus a 5-inch-long steak knife from his jacket, prosecutors said.

"I hit him approximately 10 times with the hammer, at least once in the head," Mr Yoos told an officer, according to a court complaint.

Mr Yoos, who was arraigned on an attempted-murder charge, is being held without bail and is due back in court on Friday. Despite the strange allegations, prosecutors and Mr Yoos' lawyer are not seeking a psychiatric evaluation for him.

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