Year
1993
Month Day
December 07

Shooter opens fire on Long Island Railroad train

Colin Ferguson opens fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train from New York City, killing 6 and injuring 19. Other train passengers stopped the perpetrator by tackling and holding him down. Ferguson later attributed the shooting spree to his deep-seated hatred of white people.

Colin Ferguson was a mentally unbalanced man from Jamaica who spent years on the West Coast before coming to New York in 1993. On December 7, he boarded a 5:33 p.m. train out of Penn Station carrying an automatic pistol, and as the train pulled into Garden City, Ferguson began running down the aisle and shooting passengers at random.

Defense attorney William Kunstler initially represented Ferguson, but his strategy of arguing that Ferguson was not responsible due to “black rage” infuriated even Ferguson himself. After firing Kunstler, Ferguson decided to act as his own lawyer.

In the resulting trial, which took place in January and February 1995, Ferguson opened by claiming that he was not the shooter. He argued that a white man had stolen his gun and shot the commuters, then pinned the crime on Ferguson. But he later changed his story, stating that a man who shared Ferguson’s name and facial features was the real killer.

When Ferguson asked nearly all of the surviving victims, in turn, to identify the killer under oath, they each pinned the blame squarely on him. After the judge denied Ferguson’s request that President Clinton and Governor Cuomo testify, Ferguson decided to forego his own right to testify. On February 17, 1995, the jury convicted Ferguson of 6 counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder. He received six life terms.

Tags
terms:
CrimeTrains

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Pearl Harbor bombed

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious ...read more

Indonesia invades East Timor

Early in the morning, Indonesian forces launch a massive invasion of the former Portuguese half of the island of Timor, which lies near Australia in the Timor Sea. The Portuguese departed East Timor in August 1975, and Indonesian troops soon began infiltrating the border from ...read more

First execution by lethal injection

The first execution by lethal injection takes place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Charles Brooks, Jr., convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, received an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol, the barbiturate that is known as a “truth serum” when ...read more

Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas

On December 7, 1862, northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri are secured for the Union when a force commanded by General James G. Blunt holds off a force of Confederates under General Thomas Hindman at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Hindman assembled a force at ...read more