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, 16 and 14, were visiting New York from Paraguay and were with their parents at the restaurant in the terminal’s dining concourse at around 11:30 a.m. when the attack occurred, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said.
The authority officials identified the attacker as Steven Hutcherson, 36. In a criminal complaint charging him, prosecutors identified the suspect as Esteban Esono-Asue, another name he uses.
After Mr. Esono-Asue entered the dining area of the restaurant, Tartinery, an employee asked him to leave, according to the complaint.
Mr. Esono-Asue, the complaint says, responded by saying: “I’ll leave. I don’t want the white man to get you.”
Mr. 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, Mr. Esono-Asue balked.
“I don’t want to sit with the Black people,” he said, according to the complaint. “I want to sit with the crackers.”
Shortly after Mr. Esono-Asue was seated and given water, the complaint says, the second Tartinery employee saw him stand up, approach a table where a family that appeared to be white was sitting, pull 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. Neither injury was 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’s management did not respond to email and phone messages.
Mr. Esono-Asue was arraigned late Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court, where a judge ordered that he be detained, according to a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
He is awaiting sentencing in the Bronx in a case arising from an episode in November. Originally charged with several low-level crimes in the matter, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge this month.
A Legal Aid Society lawyer representing Mr. Esono-Asue in the Bronx case declined to comment. A society spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Manhattan case.