A man dressed as the cuddly Sesame Street character Elmo - a regular on the pedestrian plazas of Times Square - has been detained by police and taken to the Metropolitan Hospital Center for a psychological evaluation, reports the New York Times.

In between posing for photographs and harassing tourists for trips, the offending Elmo began spouting xenophobic and anti-Semitic tirades. The man in the suit would shout "crazy stuff" about fellow Elmo impersonators, according to a Peruvian immigrant named Luis, 25, who has been donning the same suit for six months. Luis explained, "He would stop and say that we were all illegal immigrants and that people shouldn't have their photos taken with us". YouTube videos of Elmo began circulating online, showing the man haranguing passers-by in Central Park and in Times Square. In one clip he shouts, "If you start your own business in this city, Jews will harass you!", prompting one woman to gasp, "That is the scariest Elmo I've ever seen in my life!" On Sunday afternoon (June 24, 2012), police officers surrounded Elmo by the entrance to the Central Park Zoo, just as he began hurling anti-Semitic abuse to the crowd, according to an English tourist named Claire Duffin.

A spokesman for the Sesame Street Workshop - who produce the kids' television show - said, "The 'Sesame Street' Muppets are known the world over, and we do not condone unauthorized representations of our characters".