The subway car, defaced by graffiti, had few passengers when it left the Fourteenth Street Station on December 22, 1984. Before it reached the next station, Chambers Street, shots rang out, passengers hit the floor, and four black teenagers were left badly wounded. Their assailant--soon identified as Bernie Goetz--fled into the dark subway tunnel. The police learned that Goetz had once been mugged and that two of the muggers escaped, while the third got off with a light sentence. Goetz had vowed never to allow such a thing to recur.
Goetz eluded arrest for nine days. One of his victims lay near death from a shattered spinal cord and will never walk again. Goetz finally turned himself in and was extradited to New York City, a hero to some, a dangerous vigilante to others.
In this book, Lillian B. Rubin, a psychotherapist, explores Goetz’s past and pieces together the story of what led this man with no criminal background or history of violent behavior to commit the crime that led to his arrest. Rubin reveals fascinating details about Goetz’s authoritarian father, who was arrested for molesting two fifteen-year-old boys when Goetz was twelve, about his submissive mother, and about Goetz’s early life in Rhinebeck, New York; she also deals compassionately with the story of Darrell Cabey, the boy paralyzed by Goetz’s bullet. She presents the details of the crime and of Goetz’s background objectively and with the sort of controlled restraint that makes this documentary read like a novel.