1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting

1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting
Merillon Avenue Station looking east.JPG
The Merillon Avenue station (pictured in 2011) is the site of the 1993 shooting
LocationMerillon Avenue, Garden City, Long Island, New York
DateDecember 7, 1993 (EST)
TargetLIRR commuters
Attack type
Mass shooting
WeaponsRuger P89 9mm pistol
Deaths6
Non-fatal injuries
19
PerpetratorsColin Ferguson
MotiveRacism
ConvictedFebruary 17, 1995
Charges6 counts of murder, 19 counts of attempted murder

On December 7, 1993, a Long Island Rail Road train pulled into the Merillon Avenue station in Garden City, New York, when passenger Colin Ferguson pulled out a 9mm pistol and started firing at other passengers. He murdered 6 people and wounded 19 others before being stopped by other passengers. Ferguson's trial was notable for a number of unusual developments, including his firing his defense counsel and insisting on representing himself and questioning his own victims on the stand.

On February 17, 1995, Ferguson was convicted of the six murders. He was also convicted of attempted murder for wounding 19 passengers. As of 2018, he is serving his sentence of 315 years and 8 months to life at the Upstate Correctional Facility in Franklin County, New York.

Shooting

On December 7, 1993, Colin Ferguson purchased a ticket for the 5:33 p.m. eastbound train at the Flatbush Avenue station in Brooklyn which stopped at the Jamaica station in Queens. He boarded the third car of the eastbound Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) commuter train from Penn Station to Hicksville, along with more than 80 other passengers. He sat on the southwestern end of the car,[1] carrying a Ruger P89 handgun and a canvas bag filled with 160 rounds of ammunition.[2][3]

As the train approached the Merillon Avenue station, Ferguson drew the gun, dropped several cartridges on the ground, stood up, and opened fire at random. During the next three minutes, he killed six people and injured another 19. Some passengers mistook the gunshots for caps or fireworks until a woman shouted, "He's got a gun! He's shooting people!"[1] Ferguson walked east (forward) on the train, pulling the trigger steadily about every half second. Several passengers tried to hide beneath their seats, while others fled to the eastern end of the train and tried to enter the next car. Ferguson walked down the aisle of the train and shot people to his right and left as he passed each seat, briefly facing each victim before firing. The New York Times wrote that the motions were "as methodical as if he were taking tickets".[1] Ferguson said, "I'm going to get you," over and over as he walked down the aisle.[3]

Other passengers farther away in the train did not realize that a shooting had occurred until after the train stopped, as a crowd of panicked passengers fled from the third car into neighboring cars. One man appeared annoyed by their unruliness and said, "Be calm", before they forced a train door open and fled into the station.[1] Two people were injured in the stampede of passengers. The train's conductor was informed of the shooting, but he decided against opening the train doors right away because two of the cars were not yet at the platform. An announcement was made ordering conductors not to open the doors, but engineer Thomas Silhan climbed out the window of his cab and opened each door from the outside so that panicked passengers could escape.[4]

Ferguson had emptied two 15-round magazines during the shooting. While he was reloading his third magazine, somebody yelled, "Grab him!"[1] Passengers Michael O'Connor, Kevin Blum, and Mark McEntee tackled him and pinned him to one of the train's seats.[3] Several other passengers ran forward to grab his arms and legs and help hold him pinned across a three-seat row with his head towards the window and legs towards the aisle. While he was pinned, Ferguson said, "Oh God, what did I do? What did I do? I deserve whatever I get."[1] He also repeatedly pleaded with those holding him: "Don't shoot me. I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Five to six people continued to hold him pinned for some time while they awaited relief. He was held down for several minutes; Andrew Roderick then boarded the train, an off-duty Long Island Rail Road police officer who was picking up his wife from the train, and he handcuffed Ferguson.[3]

Victims

Six passengers died from their injuries:

The wounded included Brendan Doyle, Mary Ann Phillips, and Robert Giugliano.