ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — An ex-convict arrested in a plot to carry out an attack at a bar on New Year’s Eve is a panhandler who’d been asked to leave the tavern in the past, its owner said, while the man’s family said he had a long history of mental problems.
Federal authorities have said Emanuel Lutchman, 25, sought to prove he was worthy of joining the Islamic State group by leading an attack in Rochester with a machete and knives provided by an FBI informant.
After authorities announced his arrest Thursday, his father and mother described a man who’d had psychiatric troubles since childhood, had recently stabbed himself in a suicide attempt and, they said, wouldn’t have conducted the attack on his own.
“The boy is impressionable,” his father, Omar Lutchman, told NBC News. “First he was a Blood, then he was a Crip, then he became a Muslim. He’s easily manipulated.”
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The father and the suspect’s grandmother, Beverley Carridice-Henry, told the network Lutchman is married and has a 2-year-old son but had been having marital and money problems. He was frustrated over being unable to find work and care for his family, they said.
“He got very emotional and sick about that,” Carridice-Henry told the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester.
Authorities said in court papers that Lutchman said he received direction from an overseas Islamic State group member and planned to carry out the attack Thursday.
“I will take a life, I don’t have a problem with that,” the court papers quoted Lutchman as saying.
Lutchman’s lawyer, Steven Slawinski, declined to comment on the allegations. Lutchman has been charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists.
While authorities didn’t identify the target, a co-owner said it was Merchants Grill, a neighborhood sports pub. The U.S. attorney’s office for western New York did not return a phone call Friday seeking confirmation of that.
Lutchman lived nearby and had repeatedly come into the bar asking for money, co-owner John Page told local media. He told WHEC-TV that Lutchman had been asked to leave several times.
He “caused more trouble than positive,” Page told the Democrat and Chronicle.
Lutchman was described in court papers as having a long criminal history, including a 2006 robbery conviction that led to a five-year prison sentence.
Lutchman’s former stepmother, Charma Lutchman, told the Democrat and Chronicle that Lutchman spent part of his childhood living with his grandparents in New York City. She said that while young, he was struck by a car, an accident that transformed him from a happy-go-lucky boy to a more withdrawn child.
The newspaper reports Lutchman spent four months in a Rochester jail in 2015 on misdemeanor charges of petit larceny and menacing his girlfriend.
Lutchman was scheduled to appear in state court Jan. 11 on the domestic violence charges. It’s likely that date will be postponed.
This story has been corrected to show the call letters for a Rochester TV station are WHEC-TV, not WEHC-TV.