Laura Italiano, New York Post, March 9, 2013
You’re just a vicious racist, a Manhattan judge said in sentencing a psychotic gunman to 240 years in prison for holding 15 white patrons of an East Village wine bar hostage 10 years ago.
Steven Johnson — an AIDS-infected, unemployed Brooklyn barber — had burst into Bar Veloce on Second Avenue just before closing time on a June night in 2002, dousing everyone with kerosene and shouting, “White people are going to burn tonight!”
One decade, one mistrial and one overturned verdict later, Johnson was up to his old tricks again at his sentencing yesterday — ranting about the economic collapse and comparing himself to the great terrorists of yore.
“In closing, I’d just like to say, f — k you and suck my d — -,” he told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald.
The judge had the last word. First he turned down Johnson’s crude oral application, telling the creep, “Your pro se motion is denied.”
Then he sentenced Johnson to 240 years to life.
“Mr. Johnson, you deluded yourself into believing not only that night, but even now, that you were and are a great man of some substance and significance,” the judge scolded.
“But in your 15 minutes of fame you proved to be no more than a malevolent and vicious racist. You accomplished nothing that night except instilling terror in the hearts of innocent, decent people, injuring some of them,” he added.
Johnson had non-fatally shot a passerby outside the bar, then a neighboring sushi chef who’d peeked inside to see what was going on and lastly one of the hostages as two ultimately subdued him.
The sentence got the stamp of approval of Margret-Ann Gidley, who was a 23-year-old waitress at the East Village wine bar when she heroically made the first move to end the madman’s 40-minute standoff with the police.
Despite being bound at the wrists with plastic cuffs and covered in kerosene, Gidley jumped Johnson and hurled him to the floor after he started ranting about how no one would leave the bar except in a body bag.