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Man shoots 3 in racial attack

Man shoots 3 in racial attack
NEW YORK (AP) -- A heavily armed black man allegedly shot three people and tried to set fire to patrons at a trendy Manhattan wine bar before he was overpowered by two women and arrested -- capping a bizarre outburst of violence that police said was racially motivated.

Steven Johnson, 34, was wounded by officers before being charged with attempted murder following what marked the latest in a series of violent crimes in downtown Manhattan.

He was carrying three loaded guns, 153 rounds of ammunition and a samurai sword when he approached four white people walking in the East Village on Sunday at about 2 a.m. and told them: "I have a problem with you," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

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

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

Johnson then allegedly forced a woman to start putting plastic handcuffs on the hostages while he sprayed the crowd with kerosene and fired occasional shots at police cars outside.

Witnesses told police that Johnson was "ranting about white people and vowed revenge for thousands of years of suffering." Johnson said that he was having "fun" and that "a real man chooses when he dies," Kelly said.

After Johnson pulled out a fireplace lighter, Annie Hubbard and Ann Margaret Gidley, both of Manhattan, tackled Johnson, and he shot Hubbard in the leg, police said.

Gidley, 23, told the Daily News that she knew she had to act.

"It was do something or die," she said. "I didn't think it was time to go yet."

Officers heard the shots and stormed the bar, grazing Johnson in the head with a bullet and taking him into custody 45 minutes after the ordeal began.

"Those two women did the right thing, a very important thing ... they were very brave," Kelly said.

The violence came just days after a burglar broke into two apartments in the Lower East Side on Wednesday and shot three people to death, including an 86-year-old man and his 88-year-old wife. In April, a man was shot in the face during a robbery attempt in Greenwich Village.

Police said Johnson, who has AIDS, apparently wanted to be shot by police or to die in a fire, and left a suicide note for his 10-year-old son at his apartment.

Johnson was charged with attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He had not retained a lawyer; he was in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital Sunday evening and was unavailable for comment. There was no telephone listing for him at the address provided by police.

The three victims were also taken to Bellevue. Brander, 28, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, was in serious condition Sunday; Hubbard, 34, and Iso were stable.

Johnson had been despondent since his wife died in March, neighbors told investigators. He has an arrest record dating to 1985 that includes weapons violations, larceny and drug possession.

Police who searched his Brooklyn apartment said they found a note taped to a wall that said, "Tell the boys in blue I won't be easy."



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