According to eyewitness accounts and security footage, John Rote, 43, drew a pistol and began firing shots after witnessing a man trying to steal a woman's purse.
The suspect in the attempted robbery, Matthew Roesch, 49, was also arrested. Roesch was running scheme by which he would hold an emergency gate open to let riders avoid paying fees, and asked for money in return. Around 9 p.m. Tuesday, Roesch tried to grab a 40-year-old woman's purse who refused to pay him, before Rote scared him off with his gun.
This incident raises questions about the adequacy of law enforcement in New York's transit system. With crime rates on the rise and insufficient policing across major cities in America, ordinary citizens like Rote feel compelled to take matters into their own hands.
Officials, who aren't protecting vulnerable citizens, are pissed.
"I've looked at the video," said New York City Transit President Richard Davey at a news conference Wednesday. "It's, I would say unusual. He sort of looks very calm, pulls out a gun, fires two shots, calmly puts the gun back in the bag and walks away."
"The point is, that's not what we need from anybody in this system," Davey continued.
Mr. Rote is originally from West Virginia and has ties out of state, but no criminal history, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
"Thank goodness nobody was hurt here—but what happened was outrageous, reckless, and unacceptable," Mr. Davey said in a statement released after Rote was arrested. -AP