N.Y. bar owner says suspect in would-be terror plot is a panhandler

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A western New York bar owner who says his restaurant was the one identified by authorities as the target of a would-be terrorist says the man arrested in the plot is an aggressive panhandler.

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The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester reports that Merchants Grill co-owner John Page described Emanuel Lutchman, of Rochester, as a panhandler who "caused more trouble than positive."

Federal authorities say the 25-year-old Lutchman sought to prove he was worthy of joining the Islamic State group by carrying out a New Year's Eve attack at a bar using a machete and knives provided by an FBI informant. He was arrested Wednesday.

Lutchman's lawyer, Steven Slawinski, declined to comment on the charges.

Authorities did not identify the bar, but Page said his restaurant was the supposed target.

The U.S. attorney's office for western New York did not return a phone call Friday seeking confirmation of Lutchman's intended target.

Authorities said in court papers that Lutchman, 25, is a convert to Islam who said he received direction from an overseas Islamic State member and planned to carry out the attack on Thursday.

He was described in court papers as having 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She said that while young, he was struck by a car, an accident that transformed him from a happy-go-lucky boy to a more withdrawn child.

"He wasn't the same boy I knew after he got hit by a car," she said. "He was different, more quiet."

The newspaper reports Lutchman spent four months in a Rochester jail in 2015 on misdemeanour charges of petit larceny and menacing his girlfriend.

Lutchman was scheduled to appear in state court on Jan. 11 on the domestic violence charges. It's likely that date will be postponed.


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