A man accused of stealing turned violent and hit an onlooker before he himself was attacked.
The ensuing brawl yesterday at Sim Lim Square attracted a crowd and the police later arrested four men.
Paul (not his real name), who works at the store involved, located at the ground storey atrium, said the man, clad in a black T-shirt, behaved suspiciously when he walked in at about 1.25pm.
The electronics gadget store assistant declined to be identified for fear of reprisals.
He claimed that as he moved closer to the man, he noticed the man stuffing a pair of headphones that cost more than $10 into his pocket. Paul confronted the man, accused him of shoptheft as he walked out of the shop and tried to detain him. But the store assistant did not expect the man to turn violent.
The man raised his voice and took off his T-shirt to show off his tattoos.
He told everyone he was a martial arts exponent and waved his hands as if he was ready for a fight.
A police spokesman said they received a call at about 1.32pm yesterday. When officers arrived at the scene, they arrested a man for theft in dwelling and another three people for rioting.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Paul's boss, the store owner, said in Mandarin: "This is the first time something like this has happened. We've always just been working hard just to do our business well. Never would I expect something like this to happen."
They showed TNP footage of the incident captured by their security cameras.
Paul said he tried to pin the man on the ground after he turned violent.
"He kept screaming and struggling at first. But after a while, he calmed down and that was when I thought it would be okay to release him," Paul said.
But the man jumped to his feet and started verbally abusing the store assistant.
Paul said: "He kept challenging me and saying that he has fought bigger guys than me. He also waved his arms wildly, as though he was trying to show off his martial arts skills."
Paul said he kept his cool and did not react to the man's provocation.
Meanwhile, a crowd of onlookers had gathered. Some of them whipped out their mobile phones to record what was happening.
That was when the man turned violent and ran towards an onlooker on his left.
Using his elbow, he landed several blows on the onlooker's face and followed up with a series of punches and kicks.
The onlooker retaliated with a punch.
All hell broke loose as a group of unknown men ran towards the alleged shoplifter and attacked him.