A New York Rangers fan is facing assault charges after a now-viral video captured him brutally sucker-punching a Tampa Bay Lightning fan following the Rangers' playoff loss Thursday night.
Tampa scored twice in the final minutes to seal a 3-1 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference final series.
After the game, as fans exited two men apparently got into a verbal dispute. A video posted to Twitter shows what happened next — the Rangers fan wheeled around and delivered a stunning left hook to the Tampa fan's face, flattening him.
The video was seen more than 1.2 million times in 10 hours.
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According to the NYPD, a Good Samaritan witnessed the incident and tried to stop the assailant, who then punched him in the face too.
Police and security were able to ultimately locate James Anastasio, 29, of Staten Island while he was still at MSG and arrest him.
Anastasio faces two counts each of assault, disorderly conduct and harassment. No one answered the door at his address on Friday, but his landlord was shocked at the news, saying he "didn't seem violent."
The fan seen hit in the video was knocked out cold for several minutes. Both of the victims declined medical attention, police said.
The fan's brother, who did not wish to be identified, said the sound of his brother's head hitting the floor has stuck with him.
"We were just trying to get out of there like everyone else and then, all of a sudden, a beer was thrown at us, and me and my brother kind of separated in that second. The next thing I know, I look over, I hear a thud on the ground and it's my brother laying there," the victim's brother recalled. "The thud. You can hear it in the video. I'll never get that sound out of my head. My brother's head hitting the ground."
The victim flew back home Friday morning with injuries to his face and head.
Madison Square Garden condemned what it called the "abhorrent assault" and said Anastasio would be banned from all MSG Entertainment facilities for life.
"All guests — no matter what team they support — should feel safe and respected in The Garden. This has and always will be our policy," MSG said in a statement.