In the early afternoon of Saturday, December 22, 1984, four young men from The Bronx — Barry Allen, 19; Troy Canty, 19; James Ramseur, 18; and
Darrell Cabey, 19 — boarded a downtown No. 2 express train apparently on a mission to steal money from video arcade machines in Manhattan. When
the train arrived at the 14th Street station in Manhattan, 15 to 20 other passengers remained with them in subway car 7657, the seventh car of
the ten-car train.
At the 14th Street station, Goetz entered the car through the rearmost door, crossed the aisle and took a seat on the long bench across from the door.
Canty was across the aisle from him, lying on the long bench just to the right of the door. Allen was seated to Canty's left, on the short seat on
the other side of the door. Ramseur and Cabey were seated across from the door and to Goetz's right, on the short seat by the conductor's cab.
According to Goetz's statement to the police, approximately ten seconds later Canty asked him, "How are you?" Goetz responded, "Fine". According
to Goetz, the four men gave signals to each other, and shortly thereafter Canty and Barry Allen rose from their seats and moved over to the left of
Goetz, blocking Goetz off from the other passengers in the car. Canty then said to Goetz, "Give me five dollars". Canty testified at the criminal
trial that he was panhandling, although eyewitness testimony generally agreed that the four men were aggressive and threatening. Goetz told police
that he thought from the smile on Canty's face that they wanted to "play with me", and he decided on a "pattern of fire" that he would use to
shoot them. Goetz, pretending not to hear, asked Canty, "What did you say?" Canty repeated, "Give me five dollars".
After the second solicitation for money, Goetz stood up, and from beneath his blue windbreaker drew a .38 Special five-shot Smith & Wesson revolver.
Goetz, who had prior firearms and target shooting experience, fired five shots, striking each of the four men. All four survived, though Cabey was
permanently paralyzed and suffered brain damage as a result of a bullet that severed his spinal cord.
In a telephone call made to a neighbor before he surrendered, and taped without his knowledge, Goetz described his physiological state at the
"Myra, in a situation like this, your mind, you're in a combat situation. Your mind is functioning. You're not thinking in a normal way. Your
memory isn't even working normally. You are so hyped up. Your vision actually changes. Your field of view changes. Your capabilities change. What you
are capable of changes. You are under adrenaline, a drug called adrenaline. And you respond very quickly, and you think very quickly. That's all.
[...] You think! You think, you analyze, and you act. And in any situation, you just have to think more quickly than your opposition. That's all. You
know. Speed is very important."
interview with Goetz video
The recent furor over the incident on a transit bus between an older man and a younger black male brought to mind a similar incident from 1984. Though
with a far less violent ending, it has to me some parallels. Many issues such as the right to bear arms, safety in public from predatory types, when
and what are appropriate self defense measures, and race relations were publicly examined. Its been 26 years and I wonder if things are better or
worse...what say you?