Steve Buscemi's NYC Attack, Explained

When social media users learned that "Fargo" star Steve Buscemi had been randomly attacked in Kips Bay, Manhattan, on May 8, they were ready for his attacker to suffer the real-life version of the "Stuck in the Middle" scene from the movie "Reservoir Dogs." One fan on X, formerly known as Twitter, wrote, "The man who sucker punched him better turn himself in, cause New Yorkers are not having this. He is at strong risk of never being seen again."

According to the New York Post, Buscemi's assailant struck him in the face. A witness said they saw the actor fall after he got hit and that Buscemi had been walking down the street with an unidentified woman. He was lucky to escape the attack with minor injuries, including facial swelling and bruising. Buscemi didn't let the incident scare him from working in the city; Page Six obtained a photo of Buscemi filming in SoHo after the assault, and he appeared to have a black eye. "He is OK and appreciates everyone's well wishes, though incredibly sad for everyone that this has happened to him while also walking the streets of New York," his publicist said.

Witnesses told ABC 7 that Buscemi actually tried to chase his attacker, whose likeness was captured on surveillance footage. Police identified the suspect as a 50-year-old named Clifton Williams, who has not been arrested as of this writing. Buscemi's assault happened mere months after another "Boardwalk Empire" star was attacked in New York City.

Other famous victims of random acts of violence in NYC

A few other celebs have been randomly assaulted throughout the years, including in New York City. In March 2024, a man hurled a rock at Steve Buscemi's "Boardwalk Empire" co-star Michael Stuhlbarg and hit his neck. According to The New York Times, Stuhlburg did not seek medical treatment after his unprovoked attack, which took place in Central Park. In 2020, Rick Moranis was the victim of an assault more akin to Buscemi's when he got sucker-punched not far from the park. "The victim suffered from pain to the head, back, and right hip," an NYPD spokesperson told USA Today. Both of the popular character actors' attackers were arrested.

In March 2024, the New York Post corroborated the claims of two New York-based TikTokers who claimed they were struck in the head in random attacks. The NYPD confirmed that it was investigating the assaults that Halley Kate and Olivia Brand described in videos on their TikTok accounts. The week following Buscemi's attack, the New York Post also spoke to an acting student who was assaulted mere blocks away from where the actor got punched. The anonymous male victim told the outlet that his attacker swung a heavy bag at him and struck his head. The victim also recalled a conversation between the EMTs and law enforcement officials who responded to his attack. "They were all saying it's happening more and more now — at least once a day they're getting called for these attacks," he said.

Fans rallied behind Steve Buscemi

CBS News spoke to former NYPD Deputy Commissioner Rich Esposito about the random attacks on New Yorkers, and he confirmed that the city has seen an increase in such incidents. On X, some conservative media figures, including right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, attempted to use Steve Buscemi's attack to score political points, and one user likened the city's atmosphere to that of Gotham. Other netizens, however, showed support for the actor by making the case that few people are as undeserving of a punch to the face as he is. "It's like seeing a puppy and kicking it for no other reason than it was there," one person tweeted. Another fan fondly reminisced about Buscemi dressing up like his "How do you do, fellow kids?" meme for Halloween one year.

Actor and former Barstool Sports podcaster Michael Rapaport reminded everyone of what Buscemi did for a living before he became an actor. "Steve is the salt of the earth. A former firefighter who worked onsite 9/11, great artist, and easily one of the kindest and most generous people you could meet," he tweeted. Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder even voiced his outrage over the attack during a Sacramento concert. "That's Mr. Pink," an incredulous Vedder said, per The Mercury News. After mentioning Buscemi's iconic "Reservoir Dogs" character, he added, "I mean, hit me — don't hit him." Of course, with so many famous faces getting punched, maybe it isn't the best idea to tempt fate like that.