Exactly 27 years to the day after Bernhard Goetz–famous in New York lore as the “Subway Vigilante”–shot four young men he thought were threatening him on a train, one of them killed himself by swallowing prescription pills in a low-rent Bronx motel, authorities said.
James Ramseur, 45, was found dead of an apparent overdose at 11:30 a.m. yesterday at the Paradise Hotel at 2990 Boston Road, law-enforcement sources said last night.
No suicide note was found and there were no wounds on the body.
Ramseur had gotten out of prison only 17 months ago, after serving 25 years upstate for raping a young woman on a Bronx rooftop.
The shooting took place on Dec. 22, 1984, when Ramseur, 18, and neighborhood pals Darrell Cabey, Barry Allen and Troy Canty, all 19, were riding a downtown No. 2 train.
As it approached Chambers Street, they encountered Goetz, an electronics specialist. What ensued is in dispute.
Goetz told authorities the intimidating youths demanded $5 from him. The teens insisted they were only panhandling.
Goetz fired five shots from his Smith & Wesson, hitting all of them.
Many residents of the city, which was then undergoing an unprecedented era of street crime, hailed him as a hero.
But since the four youths were black, others called him a racist.
He was convicted of illegally possessing a loaded firearm, but cleared of the more serious charges–four counts of attempted murder.