Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Subway Vigilante

In 1984, mid afternoon on a subway car on the number 2 Train in New York City, Bernard Goetz was approached by four youths who demanded money from him. Goetz arose from his seat and produced an unlicensed handgun and summarily shot all four. After the shooting he spoke to two female passengers on the train and asked them if they were injured, as the two women had been knocked down by other passengers when they fled to the opposite end of the subway car when the shooting began. Goetz was approached by the conductor and Goetz told him "they tried to rob me". The conductor asked Goetz if he was a Police Officer and Goetz told him he was not. He refused to turn over the weapon and got off the train, jumped onto the tracks and escaped by running through the tunnel at Chambers St., downtown Manhattan. He turned himself in nine days later. The newspapers dubbed him "The Subway Vigilante".

Charles Bronson had nothing on this guy when he portrayed Paul Kersey in the long running sequel of movies "Death Wish" which began its reign in the 70's. According to police reports Goetz made several statements that indicated he had a plan when he arose from his seat and began firing his revolver at the youths. "Speed is everything" Goetz told police in a video taped statement. He told police that while still seated he planned a "pattern of fire". The public responded calling Goetz a hero and claimed he acted in self defense. He received enormous support as the public was tired of living in fear due to the rising violent crime rate in NYC. Goetz was eventually convicted for CPW-criminal possession of a weapon. He served eight  months in jail.

The four youths he shot all survived, although Darrell Cabey was paralyzed having his spinal chord severed by one the bullets fired by Goetz. The other three; Barry Allen, Troy Canty and and James Ramseur, all nineteen years old went on to commit other crimes.

As of 2005 Goetz was living in New York City and even ran for Mayor in 2001. He sells and services electronic test equipment through his company Vigilante Electronics.

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