[Hpn] NYTimes.com Article: Man Is Arrested in Stabbings in Midtown

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Mon, 10 Jan 2005 03:10:57 -0500 (EST)

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Man Is Arrested in Stabbings in Midtown

January 10, 2005


During a night of violence in the spring of 1974, Jesse
Nettles stabbed a young man to death at the Port Authority
Bus Terminal and threw another man onto the subway tracks
in Chelsea. Late Saturday night, Mr. Nettles, now 58 and
homeless, was arrested in connection with another random
string of violence: the stabbing of a man in Times Square
and two employees at a restaurant in Pennsylvania Station,
the police said. 

Mr. Nettles, who served more than a decade in prison after
the 1974 attacks, was also being questioned in connection
with another stabbing at the same restaurant, a T.G.I.
Friday's, on Thursday, investigators said. 

"The police said he was making excuses, that he did it
because people were calling him names, racist names," Tony
Rosado, general manager of the restaurant, said yesterday.
Mr. Rosado said that he had not witnessed the attacks, but
that his employees had described the attacker as well
groomed. "He's not somebody you'd think is homeless or
crazy," he said. 

The first attack occurred at the bar at Friday's shortly
before 11 p.m. Thursday. The restaurant is in the shopping
concourse near ticket booths for the Long Island Rail Road,
between Dunkin' Donuts and Caruso's Pizza. A 31-year-old
man who was at the bar with his brother got into a fleeting
argument with Mr. Nettles, the police said. 

The man then felt something hit him in the back, realized
he had been stabbed and called for the bartender. He was
stabbed in the liver, but he was not seriously injured, and
was taken to St. Vincent's Manhattan Hospital, the police
said. Neither his identity nor the nature of the argument
was disclosed yesterday. 

On Saturday, another attack occurred at 7 p.m. in front of
the Reuters building at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, a
corner that was packed shoulder to shoulder at one of the
busiest times of the week. 

Ryan Brown, 28, of Harlem, said he was walking toward Toys
"R" Us on Broadway with his two sons, who are 5 and 1, when
a clean-cut man in a leather coat and hat stopped him. 

"He said, 'Are you talking to me?' " Mr. Brown said from
his hospital bed yesterday at St. Vincent's Midtown
Hospital. "He looked so angry." 

Mr. Brown replied, "No, I'm talking to my kids," and the
man said, "Oh, yeah?" and struck him in the neck, he said. 

"I thought he had punched me," Mr. Brown said. A passer-by
told him he was bleeding, and Mr. Brown covered the wound
with his bare hands. The man ran away. 

"My sons were crying," he said. "I thought I was going to
die. I couldn't breathe." Blood flowed into his lungs,
collapsing one that was being drained yesterday. 

"He was like the devil," Mr. Brown said of his attacker. "I
have really bad pain." 

Investigators said that after Mr. Brown was stabbed, Mr.
Nettles headed downtown. At 9:40 p.m., the police said, he
went to the T.G.I. Friday's and stabbed two employees, who
were not identified yesterday. The restaurant is usually
slow at that time on a Saturday, Mr. Rosado said. 

"This is not a rowdy bar," he said. "We got families, we
got a mellow crowd. The people at the bar are nice people."

After the attack, Mr. Nettles bolted into the concourse,
and two Metropolitan Transportation Authority officers
overtook him at the turnstiles leading to the Seventh
Avenue subway. He faced preliminary charges of attempted
murder, reckless endangerment and weapons possession, the
authority police said. Further charges in the Times Square
attack were pending, the police said. The police said he
was carrying a pocketknife. 

Mr. Nettles was 27 when, early on the morning of May 30,
1974, he stabbed a 21-year-old man, Robert Munson Budd Jr.
of Camden, N.J., in the men's room on the lower level of
the Port Authority on Eighth Avenue. That same night, he
quarreled with a man at a subway station on West 23rd
Street and pushed him onto the tracks, slightly injuring
the man. 

The police caught up with Mr. Nettles after a fight at
Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street, near a hotel where he was
living. Because he was carrying a seven-inch hunting knife,
detectives began questioning him about the stabbing at the

He was convicted of manslaughter, and was released from
prison 13 years later, in 1987, according to state
correction records. Mr. Nettles was living in the homeless
shelter at Bellevue Hospital Center, the police said, and
had been arrested on charges of robbery, arson, public
lewdness and fare beating, but it was unclear when those
arrests occurred. He is not currently on parole, the police



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