NEW YORK — Nearly three decades after becoming notorious as the subway rider who shot four teenagers on a Manhattan train, Bernard Goetz found himself back in the news Saturday.
Goetz, 65, was arrested Friday evening after attempting to sell $30 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer, the police said. The officer approached him in Union Square and asked if he was selling. Goetz said he was, and went back to his apartment. When he returned, he was charged with trying to sell marijuana, police said.
On Dec. 22, 1984, Goetz, an electrical engineer who was then 37, was riding the subway when he was approached by the four teenagers in lower Manhattan. They asked him the time and for a cigarette and a few dollars. Goetz, who had been mugged in the past and later told the police he feared being robbed again, pulled out an unregistered pistol and fired five rounds.
The shooting made Goetz something of a legend: a crime-fighting hero to some and a dangerous hothead to others. It also engendered a debate over rampant crime, gun control, a citizen's right to self-defense and race. Goetz was white; the four young men he shot were black.
In 1987, Goetz was acquitted of attempted murder but found guilty of weapons possession.
In 2001, he ran for mayor, but has kept a low profile since.