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Hutchinson News Newspaper Archive: January 6, 1985 - Page 9

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   Hutchinson News (Newspaper) - January 6, 1985, Hutchinson, Kansas                                Vigilante: portrait of the subway shooter Hutchinson News    Sun., Jan. 6, 1985 Page 18 By Robert D. McFadden N.Y. Tlmn Nfwj Servlw NEW YORK - To his admirers, Bernhard Hugo Goetz is a personable, scholarly, self-reliant man who cares alwut his neighbors and his community, despises hoodlums and has long been frustrated by what he sees as a drift toward criminal anarchy. To his detractors, he is a captive of naive idealism, a profoundly introverted and secretive man whose friendliness falls short of real friendships and whose outspoken views on crime mask a darker personality obsessed by irrational fears. The emerging picture of Goetz is a kaleidoscope of clashing opinions reflecting the harshness, if not the scope, of the debate over vigil-antism and public safety that has enveloped the nation since he shot four youths who harassed him on a Manhattan subway train Dec. 22. Bernhard Hugo Goetz was born at Kew Gardens Hospital in New York City on Nov. 7, 1947, the youngest of four children of Bernhard Willard and Gertrude Goetz. His mother was Jewish and his father, a Lutheran, had immigrated to New York in 1928 from Os-nabruck, in northwestern Germany. His father, the family said, spent much of his fortune over the last two and a half years battling an illness that the family declined to identify. Goetz died last September at the age of 78, leaving an estate of unknown size to be divided equally among his four children. His wife had died in 1977. In 1965, Bernhard enrolled at New York University. He majored in nuclear engineering and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1970. "I remember him as a good student, one of the better ones by far, a really nice fellow," said Raphael F. Aronson, a former professor of nuclear engineering at the univer-sitiy's now-defunct Bronx campus. "He was friendly, personable, the kind of student we like to have. He Was intellectually inquisitive. He wasn't a loner. He had friends." After graduation, Goetz returned to Orlando and worked in the early 1970s with his father in the development company. According to his sister, Bernice, he also managed to avoid the military draft during the Vietnam War by feigning mental illness and seeking psychiatric aid. In 1971, he married a woman named Elizabeth. They lived in Orlando for about four years until they were divorced. They had no children. When the marriage ended in 1975, Goetz moved to New York, rented an apartment at 211 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village and incorporated his business, the Electrical Calibration Laboratory Inc. Goetz, the company's sole employee, ran the business out of his apartment, though he traveled widely in his work, which involved testing, repairing and maintaining electrical equipment for manufacturing companies. The business is technical and the equipment highly sophisticated. For example, a manufacturer who wanted to sell power cable would need to conduct various tests to ensure that the cable was working properly before it was delivered and buried or otherwise installed; what Goetz did was to ensure that the cable manufacturer's testing equipment was working properly. He did not test the cable itself. Traveling to manufacturing plants across the nation on appointments scheduled weeks or months in advance, he calibrated, repaired and tested a wide range of testing equipment. To do this, Goetz had to buy - and sometimes assemble from separately purchased parts - his own electrical testing equipment, much of which he obtained from suppliers in lower Manhattan or at auctions in Queens, Brooklyn and Harlem. Because such equipment purchases were often cash-and-carry, he frequently traveled with large sums of money, $2,000 to $4,000, sometimes as much as $6,000, he Bernard Hugo Goetz told a hearing officer in 1982 when he applied for a pistol permit. Cash, withdrawn as needed from his bank accounts, enabled him to buy bargains on the spot, he said. Once, he said, he got a $20,000 piece of equipment for $3,788; on another occasion, he said, he got a $4,000 item for $302. On the way home, or traveling to and from jobs, he explained, he^ sometimes had to carry pieces of equipment worth $15,000 to $20,000. "I started with nothing five years ago, and today I have somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000 worth of equipment," Goetz told the hearing officer. "He was a genius," said Josh Kates, owner of Trans-Am Electronics at 383 Canal, who said Goetz had been fixing and buying his equipment for years. "He did stuff few guys could do." In April 1977, with business thriving, he moved into a one-bedroom apartment at 55 West 14th. His rent today is about $650. a month. The 21-story building, which has 238 apartments, is one of two high-rise apartment buildings set amid a tawdry clutter of bargain clothing stores, furniture outlets and cut-rate electronic shops. Tenants said he wrote petitions to the police over what he called inadequate police protection, growing drug abuse and illegal peddlers on the block. He joined FAB 14 (For a Better 14th Street), and once donated $300 to the organization when it ran out of money to pay a private carter to empty trash containers it had installed on the street. He also served a few years ago as head of his building's tenants' committee, which is now defunct. "I like him, I trust him, I admire him," said Allan Horwitz, the publisher of TV News magazine and a fellow tenant. He said Goetz sometimes took his children to Washington Square Park, and last July 4 took them to the roof to see fireworks. If there was a turning point in Goetz's life in recent years, it was a mugging. He was not badly hurt - he suffered only a torn cartilage in his chest - but the episode, and in particular the way he and a suspect were treated in the courts and by the police afterward, appears to have left him with deep emotional scars. It happened about 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, 1981, in a subway station on Canal Street. Goetz had just bought equipment valued at $800 to $1,000 at a nearby store and he was taking it home, he recalled at the hearing in 1982 on his application for a pistol permit. "Three fellows jumped me," he said, "and I ran. They took - they took the items I was carrying. I ran out of the subway station up the steps. They came after me. Fortunately for myself, a police officer was on the street. He apprehended one of the perpetrators. The other two took the things I was carrying, put them down and ran away. They were very clever." Later, he amplified his remarks: "The arresting officer saw him strike me, knock me down, and he ran into me, knocking me into a plate-glass window, which fortunately didn't break. But the door handle hit me in the chest and it tore cartilage and connecting tissue in my chest. "Two of the perpetrators saw the police officer and they ran. The third one continued to beat me. He didn't see him. The police officer nabbed him." Painful as the injury was at the time, it was the aftermath of the mugging that appeared to bother Goetz most. The apprehended sUspect, 16-year-old Fred Clarke of Brooklyn, was taken to Criminal Court. "He was kept for 2 hours and 35 minutes," Goetz recalled. "Now, I was there in the Criminal Court Building for 6 hours and 5 minutes, along with the police officer who made the arrest. A doorman at Goetz's apartment building also recalled the day. "He came back all shook up," he said. "His coat was a mess. All he could say was, 'Do you believe this? I spent all this time there and this guy walked out in two and a half hours.' " Three weeks later, Goetz said, he spotted the man who had mugged him mugging a couple on the street with another man. At some point before his case was adjudicated, Goetz said, the arrested man filed a cross complaint accusing him of starting the incident. "I think it's kind of ridiculous," he said, "to consider tliat someone, let's say in my position, carrying things, would start up with three blacks alone, in the subway system." Nevertheless, as a result of the cross-complaint, the matter was turned over to a non-criminal mediation process, which is sometimes used to resolve non-violent disputes CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS! 1910 E. 30th Ave., Hutchinson 663-2174 OFFICE RECEIVING APPLICATIONS FOR SECOND SEMESTER HvoKiBMinnvinii We are looking for young people who desire Christian education. Young men nnay want to become part of a new winning tradition in football taught with a Christian perspective. The program is Bible Centered, accredited, Co lege Prep., and offers interscholastic competition in music and athletics. fLEMfNTARV SCHOOL! Nf W l-CUSSIOOM PMIIPING. CIRTiriiD TIACHING. ACCWHTf0 Member of the Aisociation of Christiai Schools InterMtioml involving conflicting claifns. Sgt. Joseph Charleman, who conducted the pistol-permit hearing, referred at the hearing to a document about the mediation and described the process in a way that suggested little satisfaction for an aggrieved person. "You go over there and shake hands with all the guys and all of them go home," he said. "That's what it amounts to." Apparently agreeing that the process seemed useless, Goetz said, "You cannot ask me to defend New York City's incompetence, which is exactly what that piece of paper represents." The matter, however, was not concluded through mediation. Clarke later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, was sentenced to six months in jail and served four months. Citing the mugging and his frequent need to carry large sums of cash, Goetz applied for a pistol permit later in 1981, but was turned down on the ground that he had failed to show sufficient need. His appeal of that decision to Sergeant Charleman also was rejected. "He was physically hurt," his neighbor, Horwitz, recalled. "He was beaten to a certain extent. Then he was hurt a second time when the police did nothing about it." The police believe that Goetz, blocked from owning a legal weapon, went to Florida, where it was not difficult to buy the chrome-plated, .38-caliber revolver he used in the subway shootings. The police say that precisely when Goetz began carrying his gun is unclear, but he had it in his waistband on the afternoon of Dec. 22, as he rode the No. 2 IRT express south toward Chambers Street and the crisis of his life. BUY REAL ESTATE WITHOUT CASH OR CREDIT Sounds incredible, but it's true! 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