Bernie Goetz may not be known to the younger generation, but he made a great deal of headlines back in 1984 when he became a vigilante on the subway. Goetz shot four youths who were trying to mug him on the subway in New York City.
Goetz was recently nabbed in a sting operation that was conducted by undercover police officers in Union Square park on Friday afternoon. It was reported that he was not singled out, and was simply part of a routine bust in the park.
He asked a woman, an undercover police officer, if she wanted to get high. Then they went back to his apartment, and returned with marijuana, prompting him to be charged for the criminal sale of marijuana. He was arrested for the attempted sale of about $30 worth of pot.
Sad to see Bernie Goetz involved in a drug bust. I'd heard he had fallen on hard times, though.
— Jazz Shaw (@JazzShaw) November 3, 2013
The event that made Bernie Goetz a household name occurred when he shot four black teens with an illegal handgun. The boys had sharpened screwdrivers and were asking him for $5. While it does not seem like much nowadays, the times were different then, with about 40 felonies per day in the nation’s largest mass transit system.
Of course, since the boys were black, the incident brought up issues of race and crime, but by many throughout the country, he was seen as a justified vigilante. His name was also one of the many subjects included in Billy Joel’s famous song from the 1980’s, “We Didn’t Start The Fire.”
Can you identify when he is mentioned?
In the end, he was cleared of the murder charges in 1987, and only spent 250 days in jail on a weapons conviction involved with the case.
Bernie Goetz is now 65-years-old, and has been living a quiet life in Manhattan. His neighbors could not believe that he was arrested on charges of pot, and speaking on the former vigilante hero, his doorman John D’Antonia, said “Bernie? Oh, come on, they arrested him for that? It’s just pot, they should let him go. People will now probably say he shot those kids because he was high.” It is quite an absurd thing thing to think about, but there is no doubt that some people will jump to that conclusion.
— Kevin Deutsch (@NewsdayCrime) November 2, 2013