He was a familiar face in the neighbourhood around Toa Payoh Lorong 4 and 5, usually sitting at a coffee shop on his own. Occasionally, the man in his 60s would greet other residents, said one shopkeeper.
But this year, his demeanour changed and he started behaving aggressively towards other people.
Residents and workers in the area spoke about him in hushed tones to The New Paper yesterday, describing him as a neighbourhood menace who would hurl vulgarities at strangers.
On Tuesday afternoon, the man's aggression turned violent when he allegedly attacked another man in his 60s at a food centre at Toa Payoh Lorong 4 with a pair of scissors, seemingly for no reason.
One witness, drinks stall owner Madam Liu, 62, told TNP in Mandarin: "The victim was just sitting there minding his own business when he was suddenly stabbed by this man.
"He's known around here. People tell me he's crazy."
Another witness, known only as Madam Hong, told Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao that the victim remained calm and did not seek help.
Bystanders helped him only after they noticed that he was bleeding.
His assailant walked away, leaving behind a pair of shades and a spilt cup of coffee where he had sat, Madam Hong said.
Mr Joe Kwan, 57, a regular at the coffee shops in the area, said: "He was gone by the time the police arrived. There was blood on the victim's face and all over the floor. His shirt was soaked in blood."
The assailant returned to the scene after changing from his green T-shirt to a black polo shirt and pretended to be a bystander, said Mr Kwan.
Recalled the technician: "Three aunties standing nearby started shouting, 'He's the one, he's the one!' They turned to me and told me to catch him. So I did."
He restrained the man by holding on to his shirt until police officers, who had gone elsewhere to investigate, returned to the scene 15 minutes later.
"He kept wanting to leave but didn't really struggle. I said to him, 'If you want to be here, don't disturb the peace. Wait for the police.'"
A police spokesman said they received a call at about 2pm and arrested a suspect for voluntarily causing grievous hurt. Investigations are ongoing.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said the victim was treated for minor injuries but refused to be taken to hospital.
Around two hours later, he called for an ambulance from his home after complaining of discomfort. He was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the spokesman said.Mr Kwan and several of his friends recalled seeing the assailant earlier in the day. He had been shouting vulgarities to random passers-by for nearly two hours before the stabbing incident.
He said: "They were random strangers. They ranged from 20-year-olds to the elderly, men who were just sitting around or office ladies from the nearby workplaces.
"He would just scold anyone who looked in his direction."
The attacker and the victim live in the same block near the food centre, said one resident, but both were not at home when TNP went there.
Neighbours said they did not know of any quarrels between the two.
Mr Kwan, who lives nearby, said he would catch up with his coffee shop buddies every day but had never noticed the man until recently.
"He would call out to people rudely and some would even scold him. I never bothered him because it was none of my business," he said.
"I'm no hero for catching him but I just don't like people to disturb the peace of our little 'kampung' here."
Attacker known to be aggressive
He may be a well-known face in his Toa Payoh neighbourhood, but no one knows his name or whether he lives alone or has a family.
When shown a photograph of him in Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao, several residents and shopkeepers knew him as someone who was notorious for his aggression towards passers-by.
A dim sum stall owner said the man would often sit at his stall but not cause any trouble - until this year.
He said: "Not sure why, but his character just changed entirely."
Madam Salamah Awi, a 59-year-old resident who recognised him from the photo, lowered her voice and said: "He's very aggressive and would scold people for no reason. He scares me."
A resident in his 70s initially said he had nothing much to say about the man. But when told that he could remain anonymous, he said the man was prone to aggression recently and few would have been surprised to learn that he had turned violent.
He added that he had previously seen the man in a fight at another food centre in the neighbourhood.
"He could be mentally unsound or pretending to be crazy, because he wasn't always this way. I doubt anyone knows what happened to him," he said in Mandarin
This article was first published on Oct 16, 2014.
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