Mad Man Who Punched Steve Buscemi Arrested After Nine Days on the Lam

Homeless assailant Clifton Williams unintentionally turned himself in at the 10th Precinct and was later arranged on charges that he bashed actor Steve Buscemi and another man in random, unprovoked attacks only minutes apart, cops said.

| 20 May 2024 | 05:01

The East Side madman who attacked the actor who played Donny in The Big Lebowski and another victim in Chelsea only minutes earlier has been caught.

Clifton Williams, 50, was arrested on May 17, for allegedly punching Steve Buscemi, 66, near the Starbucks at 393 Third Avenue and East 28th Street, on Wednesday May 8.

The beloved and versatile character actor “was another victim of a random act of violence in the city,” said his publicist after the attack. “He is OK and appreciates everyone’s well wishes, though incredibly sad that this has happened to him while also walking the streets of New York.”

Lest anyone be surprised that Buscemi was so open about the incident—the likes of which certain politicians and activists often downplay—remember that he was an FDNY firefighter with Engine 55 in Little Italy before finding success as a thespian. To brush off such an attack—to let it go unreported, or unprosecuted— would be tantamount to treason against all New Yorkers whose lives he once labored to preserve.

Having been sucker punched and knocked down, Buscemi was taken to Bellvue Hospital for treatment to his bruised, swollen, and bleeding left eye, while his assailant vanished.

Surveillance camera images released by NYPD revealed the attacker to be an athletically built, middle-aged, brown-skinned man with a gray beard dressed in a tight blue t-shirt, black sweatpants and white sneakers. He also wore a black baseball cap and a knapsack.

It was Williams’ own volatile behavior that led to his arrest. Involved in a dispute over personal items at a homeless services facility in Chelsea, Williams went down to the 10th Precinct, at 230 West 10th Street, to file a report. An attentive officer, recognizing Williams from the wanted poster issued after the Buscemi attack, asked if that person was him. Williams admitted that it was.

Ten minutes before he slugged Buscemi—who played both the criminal and eventual crime victim in Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire, among other celebrated roles—Williams had also belted an as yet unnamed 22-year-old Asian man, also on 3rd Ave. near E. 16th Street.

Williams now faces charges of second-degree assault against Buscemi—a felony charge, because the actor is over 65— and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, against his younger victim. Williams was arraigned in Manhattan criminal court on Saturday May 18, with bail set at $50,000. Said Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Barry, Williams has a “significant criminal history in both Kentucky and Tennessee spanning many years including assaults and other crimes of violence.”

At press time, Williams—all 6 feet 2 inches tall and 197 pounds of him— was jailed at the Eric M. Taylor Center, in East Elmhurst, Queens. His next court date is on May 23.

According to NYPD CompStat data for the week including the Buscemi attack, felony assaults in the 13th Precinct were up 2.6% over 2023, with misdemeanor assaults up 17.1%.