A Lincoln man who had ambitions of being a fighter has been arrested on suspicion of assault after authorities say he attacked a pro wrestling great during the Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City.
Zachary M. Madsen, 26, is accused of tackling Bret “The Hitman” Hart, 61, while Hart was giving a speech during his WWE Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, according to Detective Carrie Reilly of the New York City Police Department. Madsen was promptly subdued by several people, including other wrestlers, who came to Hart’s defense.
Hart returned to giving his speech and later told authorities that he had some pain in his right hip.
Madsen, who is an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter, ran toward the ring from the crowd, spectator Alan Fisher told the Associated Press.
“I couldn’t believe that the security had missed him in the first place, and the next thing you know there was Shane McMahon and Travis Brown on top of him. The crowd was going crazy booing,” Fisher said. “Everyone was cheering when one of the wrestlers punched him.”
Several shocked onlookers posted footage of the altercation, and it went viral.
(Warning: This video contains language that may offend some viewers.)
“He should have never attacked Bret Hart, especially at such a special moment in his life,” Fisher said.
Reilly said Madsen was arrested on suspicion of four charges: two assault charges, one criminal trespass count and one violation of a local law prohibiting interference with a sporting event.
Hart was standing at the podium in the wrestling ring with his niece Natalya Neidhart when a man, later identified as Madsen, climbed under the ropes and came up behind the two. He grabbed and flung the two to the ground.
Videos on social media show that Madsen took multiple punches in the melee that followed. Reilly said the police report doesn’t indicate whether Madsen was injured or whether those who punched him would face any repercussions.
Also injured was a security guard, Reilly said.
Hart and Neidhart were there for the induction of Hart and his former tag-team partner and Neidhart’s father, the late Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.
Before the Saturday night altercation, Madsen had posted harassing messages about pro wrestling on his social media accounts. His Twitter handle, @iAmMad_sen last week included a post that he was headed to New Jersey for WrestleMania 35, which was to be held the day after the Hall of Fame ceremony.
A check of Nebraska court records found that Madsen is awaiting trial on charges of violating a protection order. Haris Talundzic, who is a mixed martial arts fighter, obtained the protection order from a Lancaster County judge because he said Madsen had been stalking him and trying provoke a fight. Shortly after receiving the protection order, police say Madsen violated the order by posting about it on social media and tagging Talundzic’s girlfriend.
Talundzic, 23, said in court documents that he had trained with Madsen at a Lincoln gym. Talundzic said he left the gym and quit training with Madsen, according to the protection order, because he became concerned about Madsen’s mental stability.
A message left with Madsen’s family was not immediately returned.