NEW YORK, NY – A good samaritan who fired a shot at a mugger in the NYC subway remains out on bail after he was arrested for discharging his firearm. While the shooting is being condemned by some New Yorkers, the shooter almost certainly kept the mugger’s victim from being harmed.
Woman Heading Home From Already Bad Day Targeted By Subway Mugger
In early November 2023, a woman was targeted by a mugger on the New York City subway, according to the New York Post. The mugger started by panhandling, asking her for money but she declined.
The panhandler continued to follow her and demand money, until she reached the subway entrance. He blocked her in the entrance and asked for money, eventually attempting to take her bag.
The victim, an unnamed 40-year-old woman from Queens, had already had an incident involving a homeless person on the subway, having encountered a man openly stimulating himself in public on her way to work.
During the struggle, a man on the subway platform started yelling at the mugger, one Matthew Roesch, 49, and telling him to stop. Roesch was oblivious, prompting the good samaritan, one John Rote, 43, a resident of Astoria, Queens, to pull his revolver from his bag and fire a warning shot at Roesch’s feet.
Roesch didn’t notice the first shot, prompting Rote to fire a second…at which point Roesch took notice and made himself scarce.
Rote was able to leave the scene, but was contacted and placed under arrest by the NYPD on charges of criminal possession of a firearm and reckless endangerment, according to the New York Daily News.
Rote owned the gun legally, but it would appear he did not have a valid permit to carry outside the home.
The victim was quoted as saying she was thankful for his actions, but wished that Rote hadn’t brought a gun into the equation as it placed people in danger. Rote was out on bail within hours of his arrest, and remains out pending arraignment and trial. Roesch was arrested on charges of attempted burglary.
Warning Shots And Carry Restrictions
The first takeaway is that Rote did the thing that everyone should know not to do by now. He fired warning shots. Not only is a warning shot a potential signal of less than lethal circumstances (and thereby not warranting use of lethal force) he fired into a public area.
While no one was hurt, someone very well could have. Careless “warning shots” have killed people when not aimed carefully, and ricochets off of hard surfaces – such as the concrete of a subway station floor – are absolutely possible.
It’s certainly praiseworthy to save another from harm, but it’s also true that if the manner in which a person does so puts innocents at hazard – and shooting the floor in a subway station certainly would – then the laudable nature of the act is to some degree abrogated.
Another takeaway is that carry restrictions don’t necessarily work.
As we know from both common lore and the history of commercial firearms design, concealed carry before carry permits was absolutely a thing, and was absolutely done by otherwise perfectly law-abiding people.
Permits can be used to separate the lawful carriers from unlawful carriers – if you have to pass a background check to get a permit, etc. – but it’s also the case that try as New York and other states might, they can’t convince all citizens to not arm themselves for their own defense.