James Ramseur, one of the four teens who were famously shot by “subway vigilante” Bernhard Goetz in a New York subway in 1984, has died in a possible suicide.
James Ramseur, 46, was found dead in the Paradise Motor Inn in the Bronx at about 11:00 a.m. yesterday.
Sources told the New York Daily News that two empty prescription pill bottles were found near the body, suggesting James Ramseur may have taken his own life.
However, cops did not find a suicide note or any wounds on the body.
James Ramseur was scheduled to check out on Thursday, but when he never did, the manager of the motel entered the room and found him.
He was the youngest of four teens who surrounded Bernhard Goetz on the 2 train on December 22, 1984.
Believing the group was about to rob him, Bernhard Goetz pulled out a .38 calibre revolver and fired, striking each of them once.
James Ramseur was shot in the chest, but survived.
Each of his partners in crime – Barry Allen, Troy Canty and Darrell Cabey – were also hospitalized and were not killed.
Bernhard Goetz was briefly a fugitive, but turned himself in to police a little more than a week later in Concord, New Hampshire.
Bernhard Goetz, who is white, claimed it was self-defense, alleging the youths intended to rob him.
During the trial, James Ramseur testified that they were panhandling, and not demanding money from Bernhard Goetz, but it was later reported that the group was intending to mug him.
Bernhard Goetz was convicted of a gun charge but acquitted of attempted murder.
Three of the suspects were found to have screwdrivers at the time of the shooting, which the suspects claimed were used to break into arcade games to steal quarters, not as weapons.
Each of the men shot by Bernhard Goetz would later be in and out of jail, with the exception of Darrell Cabey, who was left paralyzed by the bullet that struck him.
Bernhard Goetz filed for bankruptcy shortly after Darrell Cabey won a $43 million lawsuit against him.
James Ramseur fell into a coma after the shooting and underwent multiple surgeries.
Shortly after James Ramseur’s release from the hospital, he filed a phony report that men hired by Bernhard Goetz tried to kidnap him. He was not charged in that incident.
A year later, in 1986, James Ramseur was convicted of holding a gun while a cohort raped and sodomized a pregnant woman on the rooftop of a Bronx building he lived in.
He was released from prison in that case in 2010 after serving nearly 25 years.
Berry Allen did time after he was convicted of robbery in 1991, while Troy Canty has been arrested for several petty crimes over the years.
The case of the electronics expert who refused to be a victim of subway muggers captivated New York at a time when such crimes were rampant.
The shooting heightened an already divisive debate in the city over race, crime and quality of life in New York City.
He was praised as a hero by many, but he was also branded a racist by civil rights leaders like the Reverend Al Sharpton.
The case is frequently mentioned in popular culture, from crime drama Law & Order to the Billy Joel hit song “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.