Man Accused in Grand Central Stabbing Had Repeated Run-Ins With Police

The man who stabbed two teenage sisters in Grand Central Terminal on Christmas Day had encountered the police at least 15 times this year and recently was taken to a Bronx hospital for 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 they said he used an anti-white slur before stabbing the girls, 16 and 14.

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.

The police records obtained by The New York Times indicate that Mr. Hutcherson’s mental health had declined in the weeks before the attack. The police received a call on Nov. 27 saying that Mr. Hutcherson was standing on a Bronx fire escape, shouting. Eight days later, the police received another call about Mr. Hutcherson, who officers said was acting erratically.

Mr. Hutcherson has been arrested at least two dozen times in New York City.

The records from this year date back to February. They include incidents where Mr. Hutcherson was either acting erratically or reported that he was a victim of a crime. They also include reports made by others who accused him harassment, assault and, in one instance, a threat to kill a man.

His ex-girlfriend and her family were granted an order of protection against Mr. Hutcherson, who had showed up at the family’s East Harlem home several times banging on their apartment door, according to police records and his ex-girlfriend.

Mr. Hutcherson’s actions came amid a yearslong crisis in New York as the governmental safety net has failed to keep homeless, mentally ill people from harming others. City and state agencies have repeatedly missed chances to prevent violence and have been shielded by state laws that hide those failures.

Law enforcement officials had repeated contact with Mr. Hutcherson but did not find a way to take him off the street before the Christmas Day violence.

On Feb. 24, Mr. Hutcherson told officers someone had pulled a knife on him while he was buying food in a Bronx store.

A month later, he said five people had pummeled him in the head. At least one person had bit his hand, he said.

The next day, March 11, he reported a domestic incident at the apartment belonging to 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, Mr. Hutcherson banged on the ex-girlfriend’s door, where her mother also lives, the records show. Her mother reported the incident, and an order of protection was granted against Mr. Hutcherson.

Still, he persisted, according to police records. Mr. Hutcherson showed up again on Thanksgiving Day, knocking on their door. He later approached his ex-girlfriend in the lobby and tried to give her soup and flowers.

Ms. Knight, 37, said she had begun dating Mr. Hutcherson in July 2021, and they split 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 that Mr. Hutcherson was in jail. But she also felt authorities had not done enough to heed her warnings. She said she repeatedly told the police that Mr. Hutcherson had serious mental health issues and had continued to violate the order of protection.

Ms. 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’s actually getting the help that he needs until he’s able to be released to society.”

She added: “I’m scared for my life because I don’t know what state of mind he’s going to be in at that moment.”

There were other incidents that did not involve Ms. Knight, and they had occurred with increasing frequency in recent months, the records show. In September, Mr. Hutcherson reported that he was attacked on a platform of the 176th Street subway station in the Bronx, according to the police records. He was taken to a hospital but refused to cooperate with officers.

A month later, on Nov. 7, a man told the police Mr. Hutcherson had hit him on the right side of the head near the Longwood Avenue train station in the Bronx. On the same day, five blocks away, another man reported that Mr. Hutcherson threatened his life. The police found a knife in the pocket of Mr. Hutcherson’s sweatshirt and charged him with possession of a weapon.

Three weeks later, the police received the Nov. 27 call about Mr. Hutcherson on the fire escape. When officers asked him to come down, he refused and continued to scream. He was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx for evaluation.

On Christmas Day, Mr. Hutcherson entered a restaurant, Tartinery, at Grand Central and an employee asked him to leave, according to the criminal complaint. Mr. Hutcherson, who is Black, then asked a second employee to seat him.

“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 he was seated and given water, the complaint says, he stood, approached a table where a family that appeared to be white was sitting, pulled 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. 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.

Olivia Bensimon contributed reporting.

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