Man suspected of spreading HIV seen 'running wild from Day 1' Acquaintances, authorities recount life that included drug dealing, street crimes

October 30, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- Nushawn Williams, a Brooklyn neighbor put it with plain-spoken certainty, was "running wild from Day 1."

And Williams' sprint into trouble -- from a broken home to childhood thievery, from gangs to crack dens, from woman to woman -- has left a breathtaking array of damage, recounted by former neighbors, acquaintances and the authorities.

There was the elderly man whom neighbors say Williams, then a child, used to beat regularly for his pocket change.

And the store owner who used to chat about the Knicks with the 16-year-old Williams but said he wound up being shot by the teen-ager in a robbery.

Also, the Crown Heights residents who said they found themselves on the wrong end of Williams' two regular trades: drug sales and street holdups.

And now, there are dozens of people who the state authorities have said may have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as a result of their contact with the 20-year-old Williams or his sexual partners.

Williams, state health officials have charged, had unprotected sex with scores of women, many of them after he learned he had the human immunodeficiency virus.

Apparently he told none of them he was infected.

City and state officials yesterday continued the grimly painstaking work of locating potential partners, and partners of partners, in the city and Chautauqua County in western New York state, where Williams lived for a time.

The rough outlines of his route from troubled child to street thug to potentially deadly womanizer, who could mix charm with threats in his accumulation of sexual encounters, do not include many moments of innocence or stability.

A neighbor said those people who had tried to discourage Williams from his pursuit of trouble -- a grandmother, a friend -- had a futile task.

"He was too much in the fast lane," she said.

Williams' life began in Brooklyn. His mother, described by neighborhood residents as dangerously dependent on drugs, was the subject of repeated investigations by the city's child welfare agency. No one interviewed could recall the presence of a father. Williams was assigned to special education classes in the city's public schools. At some point, he dropped out.

The arrests accumulated early and often. He was convicted of robbery when he was 15, and charged with murder when he was 17. He spent a year in jail from 1994 to 1995 before being acquitted of the killing, and began his series of ricochets from New York City to Jamestown. In all, he amassed eight arrests with at least three convictions, though the disposition of some cases was unclear last night.

But in Jamestown, investigators said, his routine was one more of bravado than violent criminality. Williams dealt drugs, they said, and struck the pose of the big-city gangster, using it to attract any number of the Jamestown area's poorer, street-hardened and disaffected young women.

Neighbors and acquaintances said sex was the one constant in his life. Neighbors in Brooklyn say Williams had frequented known crack houses for years with a steady stream of women, some young, some prostitutes.

Natasha Schuler, 15, and Lanie Philbrick, 17, said they had three friends who had tested positive for HIV after they had had sex with Williams.

Williams, who was arrested most recently Sept. 21 on charges of selling drugs to undercover officers and then assaulting them, is being held in an isolation cell on Rikers Island.

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Pub Date: 10/30/97

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