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Colin Ferguson

Colin Ferguson was convicted of the December 7, 1993 shooting of 25 people aboard the 5:33 pm Long Island Railroad commuter train out of Penn Station, in Long Island, New York. Ferguson was wrestled to the floor of the train by three men, as he reloaded his Ruger P-89 9mm[?] pistol for the third time, and held until the arrival of police. He killed six passengers and wounded nineteen during the mass murder. The gun had been legally purchased.

Ferguson's defense counsel had urged him to let them argue that he had been driven to temporary insanity by "black rage", and that although he had committed the killings, he should be held criminally liable; however, Ferguson insisted that he had not committed the killings and chose to represent himself. Ferguson's attorney was quoted in the Associated Press (August 12, 1994), "Without a psychiatric defense, Ferguson has no defense. There was no doubt that he was there, that he fired the weapon, that he would have fired it more if he had not been wrestled to the ground. There is no doubt that Colin Ferguson, if sane, was guilty." More than a dozen witnesses testified that he was the killer, yet Ferguson argued that he was being framed, maintaining that someone had stolen his gun while he slept and shot the passengers. "This is", he said, "a case of stereotyped victimization of a black man and the subsequent conspiracy to destroy him."

Some argue that Ferguson's attack was a hate crime; however, the case was not prosecuted as such.


During the trial, William M. Kunstler[?] and Ronald L. Kuby[?] attempted to argue that Ferguson was driven to mental illness through years of living in an oppressive and racist society. They argued that Ferguson's insistence on representing himself and not pleading insanity demonstrated his psychological incompetence to stand trial. This position was rejected by the presiding judge: Mr. Ferguson was found competent.

Ferguson argued that the 93 counts he was charged with were related to the year 1993, and thus the charges had been made up by the prosecution. He also argued that a mysterious black man, with the same residential address, had committed the crimes. Later, he argued that a white man had committed the crimes. He called witnesses that identified him as the killer, and spoke to them in such a way as to provoke them to reiterate that identification time and again. Reporters found these moments of Ferguson's defence "bizarre" and "surreal".

Ferguson was sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment, on February 17, 1995.

Judge Donald E. Belfi[?], of the Nassau County Court[?], called Ferguson a "selfish, self-righteous, coward."

Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband Denis McCarthy was killed by Ferguson, and whose son, Kevin McCarthy, was severely injured, was subsequently elected to the United States Congress on a platform of gun control.

The survivors of some other victims of Ferguson's rampage (those killed were Denis McCarthy, James Gorycki, Amy LoCicero, Theresa Magtoto, Richard Nettleton, Mikyung Kim) have also become involved in gun control efforts.

Additional Quotes

  • "I hope somewhere down the road I will be forgotten...that I will just be able to live the life I had before, a quiet life unknown to the world."

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