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Gunman Who Held East Village Bar Patrons Hostage Gets 240 Years in Prison

 Steve Johnson held 14 patrons hostage in the East Village's Bar Veloce in 2002, shooting three of them.
Steve Johnson held 14 patrons hostage in the East Village's Bar Veloce in 2002, shooting three of them.
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EAST VILLAGE — A man who held more than a dozen patrons hostage at an East Village bar, shooting three of them and dousing others with kerosene in a hate-fueled rampage, was sentenced Friday to 240 years in prison, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Steve Johnson, 45, was found guilty in February of attempted murder, assault, kidnapping as a hate crime and possession of weapons, in connection with the 2002 incident.

At 2 a.m. on June 16, 2002, Johnson entered Bar Veloce, 175 Second Ave., armed with a semi-automatic pistol, a sword, a baton and the kerosene, officials said. He went on a rampage for about 45 minutes, ending when he was tackled by two female patrons.

"The 15 victims in this case have had to endure years of psychological terror as a result of being held captive, doused with kerosene and, in some instances, shot by the defendant," DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement.

Johnson had left his Brooklyn home with the intent to kill as many white people as possible, the New York Times reported.

He first approached a group of people near the corner of East 11th Street and Second Avenue, shooting one man in the stomach before attempting to grab a woman who managed to escape, according to the DA's statement.

The injured man staggered into Bar Veloce and Johnson followed him, according to news reports and the DA. Johnson then forced one female patron to tie up 14 others and douse them with kerosene as Johnson shouted racial slurs and threatened to set fire to the hostages, the DA said.

During the standoff, a nearby restaurant owner was shot in the wrist when he came to investigate the disturbance, according to the DA's statement.

Johnson was caught off guard when two patrons tackled him, allowing the NYPD Emergency Service Unit to enter the bar and subdue the gunman.

Three people were shot and several others suffered chemical burns, but "miraculously, all involved survived," according to the DA.