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Arts and Entertainment

Expo Line Hero Didn't Know His Chokehold Made Him A Viral Star

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Adrian Kaczmarek became an international hero after a cellphone video of him putting a combative Expo Line passenger into a chokehold went viral, earning the 31-year-old gym manager nicknames like "Viking Guy" and "Subway Hero." A YouTube clip of Saturday's incident has racked up more than 1.3 million views.

Kaczmarek, who describes himself as "just a guy," spoke with LAist about the incident.

"What the video doesn't show," Kaczmarek explains, "is that [the man's erratic behavior] was happening a few minutes prior to the video getting turned on. The shirtless man kept going up and down the car, he was over in my area and then he was down towards the middle where the incident actually happened. He paced up and down a few times."

Kaczmarek said that he felt uncomfortable, especially as the situation escalated and the shirtless passenger appeared increasingly out of control, yelling and threatening people.

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"There were women and children in the area, so I decided to get up and do something about it," Kaczmarek says. "I didn't want to confront him, because I knew he would become even more violent. I didn't want to punch him and really hurt him. I just wanted to put him in a choke and restrain him and then let the authorities take over from there." After subduing the passenger with a chokehold, Kaczmarek pinned him down until sheriff's deputies arrived at the Culver City station. Deputies arrested the passenger on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, according to the LA Times.

Kaczmarek had no inkling that the incident would go viral, explaining that "there was just so much adrenaline and testosterone running through my body that I had no idea that it was even taped." He was in the dark until Sunday morning, when a friend from New York posted the clip to his Facebook wall and asked "is this you?"

Kaczmarek is typically only an occasional transit rider, but his car has been in the shop for the past five weeks. When asked how he knew how to safely execute a chokehold, he credited his New York upbringing and "some streetfighting here and there."

"People think that I'm a UFC fighter, people think that I'm a Navy Seal, people think that I'm Batman, or whatever the hell is out there with all the nicknames. But I just know from experience," he explained.