30 years ago: Bernie Goetz becomes ‘Subway Vigilante’

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- Thirty years ago, the city was a very different place.

On December 22,1984, in a subway car, a 37-year-old electrical engineer named Bernie Goetz shot four black youths whom he believed were about to mug him.

Before he turned himself in, Goetz was known as the "Subway Vigilante."

Many New Yorkers hailed him a hero.

Goetz was praised because at the time, New York had one of the highest crime rates in the country.

In fact, between 1965 and 1984, violent felonies in New York City had nearly tripled. That's an average of six violent muggings every day.

Goetz said he feared he was about to become a statistic -- so, he opened fire.

He served 8 months in prison for criminal possession of a weapon.