A Queens man who fired two shots in a Manhattan subway station in an effort to stop a homeless man from robbing a woman was charged on Wednesday with weapons counts and other crimes, officials said.
The man, John Rote, was awaiting arraignment Wednesday night on charges that included criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and menacing, officials said. It was not clear whether he had a lawyer.
Mr. Rote, 43, was identified as the suspect in the shooting, which occurred at about 10 p.m. Tuesday at the 49th Street station in Midtown, based on security camera footage, officials said. A still image released by the police before he was arrested showed a beefy man in a T-shirt, shorts and running shoes who was wearing a backpack and carrying a tote bag.
According to an account provided by the police and transit officials, Mr. Rote was nearby when the homeless man, Matthew Roesch, accosted the woman while holding open an emergency exit gate near the turnstiles.
Mr. Roesch, 49, was described by police and transit officials as a “swiper,” someone who — in one version of the fare-evasion problem that continues to bedevil the system — holds emergency gates open in hopes of receiving a small fee from those who walk through.
Richard Davey, the president of New York City Transit, which operates the subway, said that in this instance, Mr. Roesch began to argue with the woman and appeared to try to steal her purse.
At that point, Mr. Davey said, “another customer pulled out a gun and tried to intervene.”
Mr. Davey, speaking at a news conference before Mr. Rote was arrested, described the scene, as captured on the security footage, as “unusual” and “beyond the pale.”
The gunman, Mr. Davey said, “looks very calm, pulls out a gun, fires two shots, puts the gun back in a bag and walks away.” He added, “That is weird.”
Investigators were still trying to determine whether the gunman intended to hit Mr. Roesch, Inspector Steven Hill of the Police Department said at the news conference.
No one was hit by the gunfire, Inspector Hill said. Mr. Roesch was charged with attempted robbery, the police said.
The episode was another example of how overrun with guns New York City has become, Mr. Davey said.
“What happens in the street can come down to our subway,” he said. “We need to get a handle on the gun issue in the city.”
The New York Times