No good deed goes unpunished, especially if that good deed involves breaking the law, and if the NYPD gets its way an unidentified man who fired two shots at a robbery suspect in a Manhattan subway station will soon be facing charges.
According to police, no one was hurt in the incident that unfolded shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday night at a subway stop near Times Square. And while the unidentified man may have thwarted a robbery, he did so using a pistol in a “gun-free zone”. For years, the few licensed concealed carry holders in New York City were free to bring their firearms onto public transportation, but after the Bruen decision struck down the “may issue” licensing laws that prevented most New Yorkers from obtaining a carry permit the city’s anti-gun leaders decided to prohibit firearms on subways and buses, along with a host of other “sensitive places” like Times Square.
Authorities were able to take the suspected robber into custody. 49-year-old Matthew Roesch is accused of trying to steal a bag belonging to a woman standing on the subway platform when the armed citizen intervened.
Roesch was allegedly a “swiper,” meaning a person who swipes people through MetroCard turnstiles for tips, New York City Transit President Richard Davey said.
He was taken into custody by responding officers and charged with attempted robbery.
“There was an interaction, an argument, with a customer. Looks like he attempted to steal her purse. We had another customer decide to pull out a gun and try to intervene,” Davey said. “Let’s unpack what is wrong with all of this.”
Davey mentioned fare evasion, and said that the “swiper” was known to police.
Davey called it “totally beyond the pale.”
Davey said he has seen video of the incident.
“It’s, I would say, unusual. He sort of looks very calm, pulls out a gun, fires two shots, calmly puts the gun back in a bag, and walks away,” Davey said. “I mean it is weird. But the point is that’s not what we need from anyone in the system.”
No offense to Davey, but “there within minutes” isn’t much to brag about. If the suspect had chosen to wander away instead of sticking around the subway station, he might have easily managed to avoid being arrested. After all, the guy with the gun got away, at least for the moment.
Davey’s seen the surveillance video of the incident and I have not, so I can’t state with certainty that the armed citizen would have been justified in using deadly force to stop the robbery. In fact, if the robber was unarmed and wasn’t immediately threatening the woman’s physical safety, New York law would probably forbid the use of deadly force in that situation even if it didn’t take place in a “gun-free zone”. In the Empire State someone can only use “deadly physical force” if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that deadly physical force is being used or is about to be used on themselves or a third party. If Roesch didn’t have a weapon of his own and was only going after the woman’s bag and not her body, then the armed citizen would probably be facing charges even if he’d intervened in one of the few settings in the city where concealed carry is allowed.
Assuming the police do eventually get their man, he’ll likely be facing charges of both carrying in a prohibited place and assault with a deadly weapon. If he doesn’t have a gun license or a license to carry he’ll be facing additional possessory charges. Getting twelve New Yorkers to convict the armed citizen might not be as easy as making an arrest or starting a criminal prosecution, however. Earlier this year a grand jury refused to indict a 20-year-old man who fatally stabbed another subway rider because they believed his claim of self-defense.
The violent incident broke out just after 8 p.m., and police responded to a 911 call of a man stabbed while aboard the train. When officers got to the train station, they found a 36-year-old man who had been stabbed in the chest.
[Devictor] Quedraogo had been rushed to New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Law enforcement sources told NBC New York that Quedraogo had been harassing multiple passengers while acting belligerent and erratic toward others on board. He may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, sources said, but a toxicology report will determine if that was the case.
[Jordan] Williams’ girlfriend was one of the people who Quedraogo had been harassing, with an assistant district attorney revealing in court that Williams told Quedraogo to stop harassing his girlfriend and pushed him away.
If a grand jury refused to even charge Williams with a crime (not even a charge of carrying an illegal weapon) because he was acting in defense of himself and others when he stabbed Quedraogo, I’d say there’s a decent chance that the unidentified man who came to the aid of a woman being robbed will also be cleared by a jury of his peers. At least I hope that’s the case. Based on what’s been reported to date, it would certainly be a far more appropriate outcome than putting this Good Samaritan behind bars.