In the latest incident of the random public violence that has been plaguing New York City, a disturbing attack on Christmas Day unfolded at Grand Central Terminal’s Tartinery restaurant. Steven Hutcherson, 36, is accused of stabbing two teenage girls in what appears to be a racially motivated attack that has raised concerns about safety and the state’s approach to crime and mental health.
The attack occurred just before noon at the bustling terminal. The victims, sisters aged 14 and 16 visiting from South Africa, were enjoying a meal when Hutcherson, after an altercation with the restaurant staff over seating, allegedly turned his aggression towards them. Witnesses report he shouted, “I want all the white people dead,” and “I want to sit next to the crackers,” before attacking the girls, leading authorities to investigate the incident as a potential hate crime under New York law.
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) December 26, 2023
The quick response of police officers inside the terminal led to Hutcherson’s immediate arrest. He now faces charges of attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. The girls were rushed to nearby Bellevue Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, as one was stabbed in the thigh and the other in the back.
Hutcherson has a long criminal record. Among at least 17 arrests in his lifetime, he has been detained several times on weapons possession charges in the last six months alone. His most recent arrests include a case of a fatal stabbing in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. In that matter, Hutcherson invaded a private residence and the resulting melee included several deaths.
A recent study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice shows that felony suspects released after arrests without bail are substantially more likely to commit additional violent felonies while awaiting trial than defendants who are released after posting bonds set at reasonable amounts.
Additionally, the release of defendants arrested for violent crimes with a history of mental health issues without bail or compulsory mental health or dependency treatments poses a significant risk to public safety. The Christmas Day stabbing at Grand Central Terminal exemplifies the dangers presented when such individuals are released without adequate intervention or supervision.
New York City exemplifies the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy that not only addresses more aggressive prosecution of crime but also the underlying mental health and dependency issues.