Man charged with hate crimes for stabbing two teens in Grand Central

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A Bronx man faces charges of attempted murder and assault as hate crimes after using an anti-white slur before stabbing two teenage sisters at a restaurant in Grand Central Terminal on Christmas Day, according to officials and court records.

The girls, ages 16 and 14, were visiting New York from Paraguay and were with their parents at the terminal restaurant around 11:30 a.m. when the attack occurred, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said.

Law enforcement officials identified the attacker as 36-year-old Steven Hutcherson. In a criminal complaint charging him, prosecutors identified the suspect as Esteban Esono-Asue, another name he uses.

After Esono-Asue entered the dining room of the Tartinery restaurant, an employee asked him to leave, according to the complaint.

Mr. Esono-Asue, the complaint says, responded by saying: “I will leave. “I don’t want the white man to get you.”

Esono-Asue, who is black, according to a police report about the attack, then asked a second employee to seat him at a table so he could place an order, the complaint says.

When the employee began to seat him, according to the complaint, Esono-Asue resisted.

“I don't want to sit with black people,” he said, according to the complaint. “I want to sit with the cookies.”

Shortly after Mr. Esono-Asue was seated and given water, the complaint says, the second Tartinery employee saw him get up, approach a table where a white-appearing family was sitting, take a knife from his pocket, and stab 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.

Tartinery management did not respond to emails and phone messages.

Esono-Asue was arraigned Tuesday night in Manhattan Criminal Court, where a judge ordered him detained, according to a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney's office.

He is awaiting sentencing in the Bronx for a case arising from a November episode. Originally charged with several misdemeanors in the matter, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery this month.

A Legal Aid Society lawyer representing Mr. Esono-Asue in the Bronx case declined to comment. A spokesperson for the society did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Manhattan case.



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