20 years after the LIRR rampage, red flags are still being missed

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NEW YORK (PIX11) – 20 years after a gunman named Colin Ferguson boarded a Long Island Railroad train in Jamaica, Queens–bound for Garden City–we’re still debating the reasons why red flags are missed, before a killer takes out a mass number of casualties.

Ferguson killed six commuters on December 7th, 1993, in Car # 3 of the 5:33 pm train to Garden City from Penn Station, New York. He was wrestled to the ground and later arrested by police.  Detectives found Ferguson was carrying pages of notes raging about racism, claiming Adelphi Universty had discriminated against him, along with the Workman’s Compensation Board.

Dr. Patrick Suraci, a Manhattan psychologist, said Ferguson probably acted out his rage as a way to vindicate his feelings of persecution.  Suraci said it’s often hard to predict which person will act out with violence.

We spoke to Suraci about the recent case of Aaron Alexis, who used a shotgun Monday to execute 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.  Alexis, 34, had a history of disciplinary trouble, when he was a Navy reservist and contractor.  He had several arrests for firing his gun in various states.  Back in August, he summoned Rhode Island police to his hotel, claiming people were chasing him and he heard voices saying they were using a microwave machine to send vibrations into his body.

Suraci said this was a sign Alexis was suffering from auditory hallucinations–and the psychologist suggested Rhode Island police should have followed up and asked him what he was planning to do about the voices.  The police did pass on information about the incident to naval personnel in Newport, but the report apparently never reached supervisors in Washington.  Alexis was able to gain access to the Navy Yard on Monday to begin his murderous rampage. He was fatally shot by Washington police officers, before he could kill any more people.


  • Jessie White

    I think this is definitely a sign that we need to reconsider how we're currently helping/dealing with our mentally ill, and if that is actually what is best for them and for society. We can't keep letting things like this slip through the cracks, and we owe it to all citizens, mentally ill or not, for these people who need help to get help.

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