On December 31, 1984, Bernhard Goetz, who was dubbed the "subway vigilante" after he shot four young black men on a New York City subway train, turns himself in at a police station in Concord, New Hampshire. Goetz claimed that the men, all of whom had criminal records, were trying to rob him and that he had acted in self-defense. At the time, New York was in the midst of a crime wave and Goetz was viewed by some people as a hero, an ordinary citizen fighting back against his attackers.
The shooting occurred on the afternoon of December 22, 1984, when Goetz, a Queens, New York, native who owned an electronics business, boarded a Manhattan subway. Soon after, he pulled out a gun and shot the men, whom he claimed were attempting to rob him. Goetz then fled the scene and drove to Vermont. The men all survived the shooting, although one was seriously injured. On December 31st, Goetz turned himself in to New Hampshire police. In 1987, a Manhattan jury acquitted Goetz of criminal assault and attempted murder. However, he was convicted on weapons charges for carrying a gun without a license and spent eight months in jail. Darrell Cabey, who was left paralyzed and brain damaged by the shooting, filed a lawsuit against Goetz and in April 1996 a Bronx jury awarded him $43 million. Goetz filed for bankruptcy soon afterward. Before and during the trial, Goetz, who expressed no remorse for his actions, made inflammatory statements, saying he had done a public service by shooting the men and society would be better off if their mothers had aborted them.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. He makes his basic cable TV debut on Investigation Discovery (ID) channel’s Deadly Woman series, season 7, episode “Brutal Bride” where he discusses the sensational 1899 Orange County murder case involving Katie Cook. The TV show airs on Friday January 3, 2013 @ 9:00 PM ET/PT (Check your local listings). See links below -