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Spring fire murder charge
The man accused of starting a fire in his Spring St. apartment building on Jan. 10, killing one person, has been indicted on murder and arson charges.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on Feb. 5 that Wei Chu Hu, 45, has been charged in State Supreme Court with two counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree arson and one count of second-degree assault.
Hu is believed to have started the fire around 6:30 p.m in his second-floor apartment at 41 Spring St., after an argument with his wife. As he was fleeing the building, Hu also attacked a police officer who was responding to the scene, according to court documents.
Renee Lea Williams, 66, who lived above Hu, was killed in the blaze. Officials found her fatally burned body on the building’s fourth-floor fire escape, according to court documents.
Hostage gunman convicted
A State Supreme Court jury has convicted the man who shot three people and held more than a dozen others hostage in an East Village bar in 2002.
Steve Johnson, 45, was found guilty on multiple counts of attempted murder, kidnaping, assault and weapons charges, D.A. Vance announced on Feb. 4.
Around 2 a.m. on June 16, 2002, Johnson begin his rampage armed with a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, a .22-caliber Derringer pistol, more than 100 rounds of ammunition, a sword, an expandable baton, a combustible accelerant and two barbeque lighters, according to court documents.
Johnson first approached a group of four people on the sidewalk near E. 11th St. and Second Ave., and shot a man in the stomach, Vance said. He then followed the injured man into Bar Veloce on Second Ave., where Johnson shot him again and proceeded to take 15 bar patrons and employees hostage at gunpoint.
A 45-minute standoff later ensued, with Johnson exchanging gunfire with police while using a hostage as a human shield. Eventually two of the hostages were able to tackle Johnson and allow officers to enter and apprehend him.
No one was killed that night.
“This was a hateful and meticulously planned attack on innocent victims,” Vance said. “The defendant terrorized a roomful of people, who showed tremendous courage during an extraordinarily harrowing ordeal. I thank the jury for its service in this case.”
Johnson is expected to be sentenced on March 8, and faces life in prison.
Ladies to the rescue
In a “Charlie’s Angels”-esque scene, three women foiled a thug’s attempt to make off with a stolen cell phone near Union Square on Jan. 30.
The victim, a 53-year-old woman, told police that while she was walking past the corner of E. 13th St. and University Place around 6 p.m., William Cox, 28, smacked her cell phone out of her hand, causing it to fall to the ground. She said Cox then picked up the phone, shoved her and started to run away.
But, according to the police report, three female bystanders who witnessed the crime surrounded the thief and stopped him from fleeing. After holding him back, police arrived on the scene and were able to apprehend Cox, charging him with robbery.
Cop wasn’t a john
This guy was looking to score cash in exchange for sexual favors, but he made an unlucky choice while trying to turn his next trick.
Around 1 a.m. on Feb. 1, Samuel Best, 20, walked up to a plainclothes officer on the corner of Christopher and Hudson Sts. and offered him oral sex for $20, police said. The officer immediately apprehended Best, and also found that he was carrying a gravity knife and several allegedly illegal pills.
Best was charged with prostitution, criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a weapon.
A convenience store employee was outed by her boss for allegedly stealing more than $1,200 from the shop, and now she’s facing criminal charges.
A manager at the Duane Reade on Seventh Ave. near W. 13th St. told police that Ashley Walker, 25, made off with the money by filling up three store gift cards and keeping them for her own personal use. After investigating the matter, officers showed up at the establishment on the morning of Feb. 1 to arrest Walker. She was charged with grand larceny.
– Sam Spokony