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NYC 'Hatchet Man' Who Allegedly Chopped Up Lower East Side McDonald's Claims Self Defense

Michael Palacios was charged with criminal mischief, menacing and weapons possession after a violent incident that went viral, but insists in a new interview that he's "not unhinged."

By Megan Carpentier
A small Hatchet with a wooden handle

The New York City man who allegedly used a small hatchet to spontaneously remodel a Manhattan McDonald's during a brawl on Friday is embracing his new moniker — but resisting the media characterizations of him as mentally disturbed.

Michael Palacios, 31, is allegedly the man captured on camera in a now-viral video in a McDonald's on Manhattan's Lower East Side around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, according to the New York Post. In the TikTok video originally posted by user kiddlite21 and then re-shared on Twitter, a stone-faced Palacios is seen being slapped and hit from behind by three young men, after which he moves away, sets down his messenger bag and pulls out a small hatchet. He then chops the end off at least one table with the hatchet, smashes a floor-to-ceiling glass panel, hits a wall with the hatchet, slaps one of the young men with his hand and points the hatchet at several people before taking his bike and exiting the eatery.

He was captured by the police shortly thereafter and charged with one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief, three counts of menacing and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. He was released on his own recognizance after 18 hours in jail, according to the Post.

In an interview with the Post, a witness claimed that Palacios was drunk and had tried to speak to a young woman accompanied by the group of men, who began the brawl after Palacios allegedly wouldn't stop trying to talk to the uninterested woman. 

Palacios, in a new interview with the outlet, says that's not what happened at all. Instead, he says, it began when a security guard — who is not seen intervening in the brawl on the video — refused to let Palacios use the locked restroom.

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"I’m like, ‘Yo, bro, c’mon. Open the bathroom,'” he told the Post. “And then I hear, ‘You, you don’t have to be mean about it.’ I’m like, ‘Shut the f--k up.’ I didn’t even look back. I just said it, and then it all became, ‘Oh, I’ll slap you.’ I’m like, ‘Where are you gonna slap me?’ And that’s when I came at the guy with the black tank top."

The video picks up as three men — one in a black hoodie, one in a white T-shirt and one in a black tank top — and Palacios are yelling at each another, and the two men seem to be trying to keep Palacios away from the guy in the tank top by pushing him back.

“Eventually I just got tired of three dudes backing me up, and I just slapped one of them. It had nothing to do with attacking women,” he said.

He told the Post he stayed stone-faced as he was being attacked by the three because he was "processing" the situation — including the fact that it was him against what he said were three, younger aggressors.

“Nobody trains for this,” he told the paper. “The average person doesn’t train to fight off three people. I’m just lucky, I guess, that I drink enough water, and I do enough pushups to fend off three young adults.”

In a separate interview with local station WABC, he added, "I kind of waited for them to finish whatever they were doing, and then I just did what I wanted to do."

As for why he smashed up the McDonald's, Palacio had an explanation for that, too.

“I wanted to intimidate them,” he told The Post. “Also, I wanted to show them that the hatchet was real. It’s not a toy."

"My intentions were not to hurt anyone," he told WABC. "My intentions were not to put anyone in the hospital or dice anybody up. The reason why I pulled out the hatchet was because, OK, I’m going to get back at these guys but I’m going to make sure they don’t jump me again."

"The most important thing is don't be afraid to defend yourself," he told the outlet.

He explained to WABC that he'd been jumped before, but elaborated to the Post that he'd been jumped once in Chicago and had been hit in the head with a hammer by a random attacker in New York City 10 years ago.

"I got hit in the head with a hammer at that corner like 10 years ago while I was walking to the store. Some random dude," he said. “So, 10 years ago, somebody got hit with a hammer. Today, somebody hit a table with a f--king hatchet. I think things are getting better, if you ask me.”

While he told WABC that he carried the hatchet for his own safety as a messenger — "It's not for people, it's for trees and, you know, vehicles" — he told the Post that he'd recently picked it up at Home Depot to use for camping. He also told the Post that he considered it better than carrying a gun.

“Think about it," he said. "If you only think that the thing you can protect yourself with is a gun, we’re all going to go to f--king jail. With a hatchet, I have my options — throw it or just smash a f--king table. With a gun, all you do is shoot."

"I'm not unhinged," he told the Post.

On his Instagram account, Palacios now identifies as "Hachet Mayne" and has shared both local news video of the incident and fan art of him as a superhero.

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