DA Vance: Man Charged With Hate Crimes For Union Square Subway Attack

May 30, 2018

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. today announced the indictment of WILLIE AMES, 47, for attacking two men on the platform of the 14th Street – Union Square subway station after making derogatory statements about Mexican-Americans. The defendant is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Attempted Assault in the First and Third Degrees as Hate Crimes, Assault in the Second and Third Degrees as Hate Crimes, and Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree. [1]

“This defendant’s attacks on two New Yorkers were attacks on all New Yorkers, as alleged in the indictment,” said District Attorney Vance “Willie Ames is charged with selectively ambushing two young men on their way home from work for no other reason than their perceived nationality. He pummeled his victims without provocation and with so much force that one was knocked onto the live subway track of one of the busiest stations in the City. The First Amendment guarantees the rights of bigots to spew hateful, fearful, anti-immigrant rhetoric on television and Twitter. It does not authorize acts of violence against New Yorkers. If you believe that you have been the victim of a hate crime, you can always report it to my office’s Hate Crimes Unit, regardless of your immigration status, at (212) 335-3100.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, at approximately 8:15 p.m. on April 20, 2018, AMES approached two men—who were 24-years-old and 26-years-old, respectively—on a northbound 4 train and made several derogatory statements about Mexican-Americans. When the train stopped at the Union Square station moments later, the defendant dragged the 26-year-old victim off the train by his clothing and struck him three times on the station platform, knocking him onto the train tracks. He then attempted to strike the 24-year-old victim. The 24-year-old victim lifted his friend back onto the station platform with the assistance of a bystander, and a witness called 911.

Meanwhile, AMES fled the scene. The defendant was identified through video surveillance and he was apprehended days later by U.S. Marshals.

Assistant D.A. Nabilah Hossain is handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Jeanne Olivo, Chief of the Hate Crimes Unit, and Robert Ferrari, Chief of Trial Bureau 40, as well as Executive Assistant D.A. John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court

Defendant Information:

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

Brooklyn, NY


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