At first, William Foley thought that the fight at the front of the restaurant was a domestic dispute — an angry ex-spouse, perhaps, publicly demonstrating his rage.
"That's what I thought it was," Foley, 54, told NBC affiliate WCMH.
But the man, 30-year-old Mohamed Barry, "just kept hammering at that table," Foley said, adding: "Then, it was chaos."
During the brutal machete attack on several unsuspecting diners in a Columbus, Ohio eatery on Feb. 12, Foley was nearly killed. In an interview from his hospital room with WCMH, he described what were probably the most harrowing five minutes of his life.
After repeatedly striking two patrons at the front of restaurant — Gerard Russell and Debbie Russell — Barry, with a machete in his right hand and a knife in the left, moved on to the next table, Foley said.
"I was two tables down," he recalled. "He bee-lined straight toward me."
Foley got in a defensive posture, lifting his hands and arms to protect himself — and he was struck repeatedly in the head and in his hands.
"After he pounced me in the head, I jumped on top of him," Foley said. "I grabbed him by the neck. I was trying to stick my thumbs in his mouth and in his nose and in his eyes."
They tumbled over a table, and as Foley tried to hold him down, Barry stabbed him.
Foley says that's when he "lost all power," but still managed to crawl away — shaking, bleeding, hoping that the attacker was gone.
By the time Foley was able to peer out the front window of Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, all he saw was a crowd of onlookers, cell phones in hand.
"I collapsed on the floor," he said. "They came and got me."
Barry had escaped — but he only made it so far: when police forced him to the side of the road, he lunged at them, machete in hand, authorities said. When a Taser didn't subdue him, he was shot and killed.
The motive behind the attack remains unclear. Law enforcement officials have told NBC News that the FBI investigated Barry four years ago after he expressed radical views, although additional details were not provided and agents' interest in him remained brief.
No connections to ISIS have been found, the officials added.