Evan Sachs, 23, leaves Nassau Police Headquarters to be arraigned,...

Evan Sachs, 23, leaves Nassau Police Headquarters to be arraigned, Saturday, in Mineola. (Oct. 9, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Merrick man pleaded not guilty Saturday to attempted murder in the stabbing of an 8-year-old boy, five times in the back with a hunting knife, as the child played a video game only feet from his family at Dave & Buster's in Westbury.

The boy's lung was punctured in the Friday night attack, which police said was random and unprovoked. The boy, who was not identified, had emergency surgery at a hospital and was listed in stable condition, police said Saturday. Authorities said his injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The suspect, Evan Sachs, 23, appeared in a hospital gown in First District Court in Hempstead, where he was arraigned on charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and fourth-degree possession of a dangerous weapon.

Assistant District Attorney Daniel Looney told Judge Erica Prager that Sachs was carrying a note that said he had planned the attack and was committed to carrying it out. "It's an attack, judge, that he had thought about," Looney said as Sachs stood silently.

Sachs' attorney, Charles Rosenblum, said his client "has been and is under psychiatric care." Sachs is taking five medications, some of which were recently changed, Rosenblum told the judge. "We're very grateful that the young boy who was hurt is stable," said Rosenblum, of Merrick. Sachs was wearing a hospital gown because he had a psychiatric evaluation before the arraignment, Rosenblum said.

Prager ordered Sachs held without bail and placed him on a suicide watch. His next court date is Wednesday.

Sachs' parents, Daniel and Randi Sachs, were at the arraignment. Afterward, Randi Sachs said, "My son is not a bad person." She declined to comment further.

Rosenblum said last night that Sachs and his family were very concerned about the victim's condition and relieved that his injuries were not life-threatening. "They're all devastated by what happened," he said.

Police said Sachs works as an usher at the UA Farmingdale Stadium 10 movie theater. Theater management declined to comment Saturday.

Sachs has no criminal record, police said.

The attack occurred as the boy - on an outing at the restaurant with his mother, father and sister - was playing a video game about 20 feet from his mother. Police said Sachs grabbed the boy's left shoulder and stabbed him.

"They had no interaction at all, and why he plunged a knife into this small boy is unknown," Nassau Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said Saturday at a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola. "It's just a tragedy that something like this happened."

The bloodied boy staggered to his mother and collapsed as she screamed, police said. A witness quickly approached the boy's father and pointed out Sachs as the attacker, they said.

The father and the witness grabbed Sachs as he walked into a bathroom and held him until police arrived. The 31/2-inch Remington knife that Sachs wielded was recovered at the scene, authorities said.

A manager at the restaurant Friday night declined to comment, but the restaurant chain released a statement, saying it was working with police.

"Dave & Buster's takes the issue of guest and employee safety very seriously," said the company's regional operations director, Patrick Fitzgerald.

On their way into the restaurant last night, a Port Washington couple paused after they were told about the stabbing. "That makes us nervous," said Michael Piza, 30, who was with his wife, Diana, and their daughter, 8.

"Want to rethink our plans?" Piza asked his wife.

"I think we'll be fine," replied Diana Piza, 26.

Another woman, Mary Sullivan, who was heading inside to drop off her son at a birthday party, said, "I assume it was an isolated incident." But, she added, "I was going shopping, and now I'm not."

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