Diners at Philadelphia’s Terakawa Ramen last week unwittingly became part of a disturbing scene that now has police in search of the men behind the stunt.
As the Daily Pennsylvanian reported, on Tuesday evening, a man walked into the restaurant’s University City location with a shirt that appeared to be bloodied and asked for help. He was followed by another man, who was yelling and looked as though he was about to attack him.
A video of the incident was uploaded to Instagram by user @FUNNIESTNPHILLY_, and though the original post has been deleted, the video has been reposted by other accounts.
The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that the prank prompted diners to hide under tables and run out of the restaurant out of fear. Diners who returned to the restaurant were apparently told that the incident was a prank that was staged for a video.
Given recent events like the bar shooting in Thousand Oaks, California that killed 12, violent pranks like this can be terrifyingly close to reality. “The fact that they were trying to make some sort of viral video, I thought that was ridiculous,” one diner told the Daily Pennsylvanian.
Despite backlash over the shock value of YouTube’s prank communities, prank videos drive views, even when they lean into realistic horror. In May, the Guardian reported on the rise—and the surprising popularity—of fake terrorist attack prank videos; one compilation of terrorist bomb pranks has over 11 million views. Amidst an increase in acid attacks in Britain, the Daily Beast wrote in January of this year, one YouTuber filmed a series of “acid attack” prank videos that apparently gained over a million views before being removed by the site.
Fight-focused prank content isn’t new for the @FUNNIESTNPHILLY_ page, which has over 250,000 followers. Many of their videos center around public fights or injury: A video posted yesterday shows two men staging a less violent but also jarring fake fight in a Shack Shack; as of publication, the video has over 55,000 views and over 5,000 likes. Another video from earlier this week shows another staged fight in a bar over a cheating partner; it has almost 44,000 views, and many of the comments are just the “crying laughing” emoji.
In an interview with CBS Philadelphia, Lieutenant John Walker said, “Make yourself famous doing something different than putting fear in other people’s lives.” According to CBS, the two men are wanted by the police, who are saving the now-deleted video as evidence.
MUNCHIES has reached out to both Terakawa Ramen and Instagram user @FUNNIESTNPHILLY_ for comment; as of publication, we have not heard back from either.