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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man arrested in random attack on actor Buscemi

Actors Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth attend the “Reservoir Dogs” 25th Anniversary Screening during 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at The Beacon Theatre on April 28, 2017 in New York City. (Dennis Van Tine/Abaca Press/TNS)  (Van Tine Dennis)
By Christopher Maag New York Times

NEW YORK – Nine days after actor Steve Buscemi was punched in the face on a Manhattan street, a man has been charged in the case, the New York Police Department said.

Clifton Williams, a 50-year-old homeless man, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree assault, a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. A police spokesperson said the charge was elevated to a felony because of Buscemi’s age.

Buscemi, 66, was walking on Third Avenue near East 27th Street in the Kips Bay neighborhood when he was attacked by a stranger just before noon May 8. He was treated at Bellevue Hospital for bleeding, bruising and swelling in his left eye.

Police officers identified Williams as a suspect Tuesday after releasing surveillance photos of him wearing a blue T-shirt, black sweatpants and baseball cap.

On Friday, police responded to a dispute between Williams and another man in the Chelsea neighborhood, about a dozen blocks from where Buscemi was attacked. There, they recognized Williams and arrested him.

Williams has also been accused of punching a 22-year-old man about 15 minutes before Buscemi was attacked, a police spokesperson said. He has been charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in that case.

Buscemi, a Brooklyn native and former city firefighter, is known for his roles in “Boardwalk Empire,” “Fargo” and “The Sopranos.”

A string of random street assaults has sown fears that the city is sliding into lawlessness, although recent statistics paint a more nuanced picture.

Felony assaults in the city fell about 2% in April compared with April 2023, according to the Police Department – part of a broader reduction in violent crimes, including a 30% drop in murders and 15% fewer shootings. But misdemeanor assaults rose 7% in the first 3 1/2 months of 2024, compared with the same period last year.

Michael Stuhlbarg, an actor who appeared with Buscemi on “Boardwalk Empire,” was struck by a rock March 31 while walking in Central Park.

Several female TikTok users, including one with more than 1 million followers, have posted video accounts of having been punched while walking around the city.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.