Posted on October 20, 2004

Jury Hears Vicious Gunman’s Hate Rant

Laura Italiano, New York Post, Oct. 19

Sometime before he spewed bullets, kerosene and racial epithets on 15 cowering hostages in an East Village wine bar, Steven Johnson gave himself a twisted little pep talk.

“Get ready to pull your guns on these crackers, son,” he snarled into a tape recorder. “Don’t have no pity, yo . . . Bang them in the head and let them bleed, son. Let them bleed. Let them cry. Let them scream.”

The chilling tapes — which Johnson took with him during his June 2002 anti-white rampage — were played for a Manhattan jury yesterday, Day One in the attempted-murder trial.

Johnson — a 37-year-old Williamsburg barber with a long rap sheet, a history of mental-health and drug problems, and a recently diagnosed case of AIDS — is not disputing he was the gunman who shot three people and terrorized more than a dozen others.

Instead, he is trying to avoid prison by convincing jurors he was too crazy to be responsible for his actions.

Manhattan prosecutors disagree.

“It was a mission of hate for which he had prepared diligently,” lead prosecutor Peter Hinckley told jurors in opening statements yesterday, before hitting the play button on Johnson’s motivational tape.

“Make sure you leave them motherf — – — – — s crawling,” he growls on the tape. “Clinging to life.”

Johnson packed the cassette recording in a shoulder bag with two semi-automatic handguns, a two-shot Derringer, a samurai sword, dozens of plastic wristcuffs and a squirt bottle holding a quart of a flammable liquid.

He rigged a homemade catheter to his genitals. Then he left behind a Williamsburg housing project bedroom festooned with painstakingly hand-stenciled anti-white slogans, Nation of Islam emblems and images of guns.