Best Known For
Bernhard Goetz is best known as the "Subway Vigilante" for shooting four teenagers during an attempted mugging in a subway car.
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Goetz thrived in a world of machines and precise calculations, but dealing with people was another story. He was dismayed at what he viewed as the crumbling social structure of New York City, and pushed hard for city officials to clean up his neighborhood. Then, in January 1981, he was attacked by three black teenagers at a subway station. He was lucky to escape with just a knee injury, but two of the three assailants managed to escape. The other spent just a few hours at a police station. Goetz was furious and, before the year was out, he applied for a gun permit.
The New York City that Goetz returned to was a different place than the one he'd left. New Yorkers, tired of the crime that had gripped their home, vaulted Goetz to hero status. Joan Rivers sent Goetz a telegram of "love and kisses" and said she would help out with his bail money. T-shirts celebrating Goetz's actions sprang up everywhere. Goetz, who posted his own $50,000 bail, wanted none of it. At least not at first. "I'm amazed at this celebrity status," he told the New York Post.
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