NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) – Police arrested a 43-year-old man for a vigilante shooting at a Midtown subway station Wednesday. He allegedly opened fire when a homeless man threatened and tried to rob a woman on a platform.
John Rote, of Astoria, has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a firearm and menacing, police said.
“I want to be clear: we don’t tolerate this kind of conduct in NYC Transit, period. Once again cameras recorded a perpetrator, and we are grateful the NYPD made an arrest within hours. Thank goodness nobody was hurt here – but what occurred was outrageous, reckless, and unacceptable,” NYC Transit President Richard Davey said of the incident.
Davey visited the scene of the vigilante shooting with NYPD officers late Wednesday afternoon.
The NYPD released images of the shooting suspect Wednesday morning, and began pursuing him for reckless endangerment.
The gunfire erupted just before 9:15 p.m. Tuesday on the northbound platform of the 49th Street N/Q/R/W station near Times Square. No one was hit, and the shooter quickly ran from the scene, police said.
It all started when the 49-year-old homeless man threatened and tried to rob a 40-year-old as she walked through a gate onto the platform, NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said at a news conference.
"She was going through the gate, she encountered a male who was trying to interact with her," Maddrey said. "The male started making some threats towards her."
During the altercation, a second man swooped in and fired a single shot from a handgun towards the would-be mugger, according to Maddrey, who said the mystery shooter "had no initial interaction" with either of them prior to opening fire.
Asked if he believed the shooting was a case of vigilantism, Maddrey said, "On the surface, when I heard the story of course I was very concerned—like wait a minute someone just interfered? I don't want to use that 'V' word just yet."
"We do not want a person like this walking around our subway system," the chief added. "Firing arbitrarily, you know, firing shots, no matter what the circumstance is."
Davey said the MTA worked closely with transit police.
"This kind of misbehavior will not be tolerated," Davey said. "Weapons shouldn't be on the streets of New York [...] We need to get a handle on the gun issue, certainly, in this city."
The alleged mugger—identified as Matthew Roesch—was ultimately arrested by police and charged with attempted robbery. He's said to be a resident of a shelter at Bellevue Hospital and has one prior arrest from September for hopping a turnstile at the Times Square–42nd Street station.