Channel 11 News anchor David Johnson witnesses attack against Salman Rushdie

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. — Dozens of people jumped into action to save the author, who had been stabbed in the neck.

Channel 11 news anchor David Johnson couldn’t believe his eyes.

“Out of nowhere, this man comes from the left side of the stage. We’re facing the stage and we’re thinking, what is this?” Johnson said. “He grabs him and starts punching or stabbing him. We were in a complete state of shock and disbelief that this is happening before our eyes.”

Johnson and dozens of others were in attendance at a summer book festival in western New York.

Witnesses say as Salman Rushdie was being introduced, a man ran toward the stage and started stabbing him in the neck.

People in attendance ran to help the author on stage, while others ran after the suspect.

“I’ve been coming here for 31 years with my family. This is the most peaceful place I’ve ever been. It’s certainly near the top,” said Johnson. “So to witness something like this in a beautiful and quiet place was utterly shocking. Unbelievable is not an exaggeration.”

A state trooper in the audience arrested the suspect and Rushdie was taken to the hospital by helicopter.

In 1989, Iran’s religious leader called for Rushdie’s execution over his book, “The Satanic Verses.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says that Rushdie is alive and getting the help he needs.

According to The Associated Press, New York State police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, 24. He was arrested at the scene. No motive has been identified.

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