December 22nd, 2004


This Day In History, 1984

Exactly twenty years ago today:


On the New York City subway, Bernhard Goetz, a 45-year-old white male, shoots four young black men after they surround him and ask for $5. After wounding three of the unarmed men, Goetz pointed his gun at 18-year-old Darrell Cabey, who was not wounded but cowering terrified in the subway car, and said, "You don't look too bad, here's another." Goetz then shot Cabey in the back, severing his spinal cord. Three of the youths recovered, but Cabey was paralyzed and suffered permanent brain damage.

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From today's Houston Chronicle (

At the time, there were 15,000 felonies a year on average in the subway — more than 40 every day around the nation's largest mass transit system. Twenty years later, there were just 2,760 felonies reported through Nov. 14. Killings in the subways, which topped out at 26 in 1990, are at zero for the year.

Subway ridership is at about 4.5 million riders daily; back then, the number of straphangers was in freefall, with one out of every four passengers abandoning the subways between 1965 and 1982. In 1984, ridership was at about 2.7 million per day.