The man who stabbed two teenage sisters at Grand Central Terminal on Christmas Day had encountered police at least 15 times this year and was recently taken to a Bronx hospital for a psychological evaluation, Police Department records show. .
Manhattan prosecutors charged the man, Steven Hutcherson, 36, with attempted murder and assault as hate crimes on Tuesday after saying he used an anti-white slur before stabbing the 16- and 14-year-old girls.
They were visiting from Paraguay and were sitting with their parents in a cafe. In the criminal complaint he is identified as Esteban Esono-Asue, another name he uses.
Police records obtained by The New York Times indicate that Mr. Hutcherson's mental health had worsened in the weeks before the attack. Police received a call on Nov. 27 saying Hutcherson was standing on a Bronx fire escape, screaming. Eight days later, police received another call about Mr. Hutcherson, who officers said was acting erratically.
Hutcherson has been arrested at least two dozen times in New York City.
This year's records date back to February. They include incidents in which Mr. Hutcherson acted erratically or reported that he was the victim of a crime. They also include reports filed by others who accused him of harassment, assault and, in one case, threatening to kill a man.
His ex-girlfriend and her family received a protective order against Mr. Hutcherson, who had shown up at the family's East Harlem home several times banging on their apartment door, according to police records and his ex-girlfriend.
Hutcherson's actions came amid a years-long crisis in New York as the government safety net has failed to prevent homeless and mentally ill people from harming others. City and state agencies have repeatedly missed opportunities to prevent violence and have been protected by state laws that obscure those failures.
Law enforcement officials had repeated contact with Mr. Hutcherson but did not find a way to get him off the street before the Christmas Day violence.
On February 24, Hutcherson told officers that someone had pulled a knife on him while he was buying food at a Bronx store.
A month later, he said five people had hit him on the head. At least one person had bitten his hand, he said.
The next day, March 11, he reported a domestic incident at the apartment of the mother of Charisma Knight, his ex-girlfriend. It was the first of at least eight reports between March and Dec. 1 at the building on Paladino Avenue near East 124th Street in East Harlem.
During that time, Hutcherson knocked on the ex-girlfriend's door, where her mother also lives, records show. His mother reported the incident and a protective order was granted against Mr. Hutcherson.
Still, he persisted, according to police records. Mr. Hutcherson showed up again on Thanksgiving Day and knocked on his door. He later approached his ex-girlfriend in the lobby and tried to give her soup and flowers.
Knight, 37, said she had started dating Hutcherson in July 2021 and they broke up after several months because he was possessive and controlling, she said. They got back together before breaking up in November 2022.
She said she was relieved Hutcherson was in jail. But she also felt that authorities had not done enough to heed her warnings. She said she repeatedly told police that Hutcherson had serious mental health problems and had continued to violate the protective order.
Mrs Knight said that if the police had taken her reports seriously, “then the girls would have been protected. “They wouldn't have had to go through that because he would have been incarcerated or in a mental institution, where he is actually getting the help that he needs until he can be released into society.”
He added: “I'm scared for my life because I don't know what state of mind he will be in at that moment.”
There were other incidents that did not involve Ms. Knight and had occurred with increasing frequency in recent months, records show. In September, Hutcherson reported that he was attacked on a platform at the 176th Street subway station in the Bronx, according to police records. They took him to a hospital but he refused to cooperate with officers.
A month later, on Nov. 7, a man told police that Hutcherson had hit him on the right side of the head near the Longwood Avenue train station in the Bronx. The same day, five blocks away, another man reported that Mr. Hutcherson threatened his life. Police found a knife in Mr. Hutcherson's sweatshirt pocket and charged him with possession of a weapon.
Three weeks later, police received the Nov. 27 call about Mr. Hutcherson on the fire escape. When the officers asked him to get down, he refused and continued screaming. He was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx for evaluation.
On Christmas Day, Hutcherson entered a restaurant, Tartinery, in Grand Central and an employee asked him to leave, according to the criminal complaint. Mr. Hutcherson, who is black, asked a second employee to seat him.
“I don't want to sit with black people,” he said, according to the complaint. “I want to sit with the cookies.”
Shortly after they sat him down and gave him water, the complaint says, he stood up, walked over to a table where a white-looking family was sitting, pulled out a knife and stabbed one of the girls in the back.
As the family tried to escape, he stabbed the second girl in the leg, according to the complaint. None of the injuries were life-threatening and the girls were taken to Bellevue Hospital, where the older sister was treated for a collapsed lung, according to officials and the complaint.
Olivia Bensimon contributed with reports.
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