D.A. Vance Announces Hate Crime Conviction in Union Square Subway Attack

June 27, 2019

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. today announced the trial conviction of WILLIE AMES, 49, for attacking two men on the platform of the Union Square subway station after making derogatory statements about Mexican-Americans. A New York State Supreme Court jury found the defendant guilty of Assault in the Second and Third Degrees as Hate Crimes and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree. He is expected to be sentenced on July 12, 2019.

“This defendant’s crime was more than a violation of our laws – it was a violation of our New York values,” said District Attorney Vance. “As a jury has now determined, Willie Ames targeted two New Yorkers on the basis of their heritage in a vicious assault fueled by hatred and prejudice. Now, he will be held accountable for this unprovoked and potentially deadly hate crime assault.”

“I would like to commend the victims and witnesses for their bravery in coming forward and for their cooperation in bringing this defendant to justice. If you’ve been a victim of a hate crime, you can report it to my office’s Hate Crimes hotline, regardless of your language or immigration status, by calling (212) 335-3100.”

As proven at trial, at approximately 8:15 p.m. on April 20, 2018, two men – who were 24-years old and 26-years-old, respectively – were commuting home from work on a northbound 4 train when AMES approached them and made several derogatory statements about Mexican-Americans. When the train stopped at the Union Square station a few minutes later, AMES dragged the 24-year-old victim off the train by his clothing and struck him three times on the station platform, and pushed him onto the train tracks. The defendant then struck the 26-year-old victim and fled the scene. A witness to the incident helped the 26-year-old lift the 24-year-old back onto the platform while another eyewitness called 911.

AMES evaded authorities for six days until he was identified through video surveillance and apprehended by U.S. Marshals on April 26, 2018.

Assistant D.A. Jonathon Junig handled the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Jeanne Olivo, Senior Trial Counsel for Trial Bureau 50 and Chief of the Hate Crimes Unit, and Assistant D.A. Robert Ferrari, Chief of Trial Bureau 40, as well as Executive Assistant D.A. John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Assistant D.A.s Raffaela Belizaire, Deputy Chief of the Hate Crimes Unit, and Nabilah Hossain provided valuable assistance with the case, as well as Legal Intern Elizabeth Russo.

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, particularly Detectives Jay Wolsky, Michael Rodriguez, Gregory Wilson, and Kenneth O’Donnell, for their assistance with the investigation.

Defendant Information:


WILLIE AMES, D.O.B. 5/3/1970

Brooklyn, NY


  • Assault in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime, a class C felony, one count
  • Assault in the Third Degree as a Hate Crime, a class E felony, one count
  • Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, one count