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3 Shot in Alleged Attempt to Burn Bar

June 17, 2002|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — A heavily armed man allegedly shot three people and tried to set patrons at a Manhattan bar on fire Sunday before being wounded by officers and arrested in what police said was a racially motivated attack.

Steven Johnson, 34, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after what Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly described as a "very bizarre crime by this deranged individual."

Johnson, who is black, was carrying three loaded guns, 153 rounds of ammunition and a samurai sword when he approached four white people walking in the East Village and told them: "I have a problem with you," Kelly said.

Johnson shot one of the men in the upper body, followed him as he ran to the door of the bar and shot him again, police say. Johnson then entered the bar and ordered as many as 40 patrons to the kitchen, police said.

A 54-year-old man of Asian descent who owns a store next to the bar heard the shots and peeked in, and Johnson shot him in the wrist, police said.

Johnson--who was also carrying a police baton, a bottle of kerosene, a fireplace lighter and more than 100 plastic handcuffs--then allegedly forced a woman to start putting flex cuffs on the hostages while he sprayed the crowd with kerosene and fired occasional shots at police cars outside.

When Johnson pulled out the lighter, two Manhattan women jumped him, and he shot one in the leg, police said.

Officers heard the shots and stormed the bar, grazing Johnson in the head and taking him into custody.

One victim was hospitalized in serious condition and the other two were in stable condition. The suspect was in stable condition, police said.

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