Before Columbine, Vir­ginia Tech, Aurora and New­town, there was the Long Island Rail Road.

On Dec. 7, 1993, a gunman opened fire on a train car filled with com­muters leaving New York City. By the time pas­sen­gers tackled Colin Fer­guson, his fusil­lade had left six people dead and 19 wounded.

Though other mas­sacres have far super­seded it in terms of casu­al­ties, there are aspects of the railcar shooting that, even two decades later, make it stand out in the sad pan­theon of ram­pages that have hor­ri­fied the nation.

In a mall or a school or a movie the­ater, there is at least some oppor­tu­nity for hiding or escaping,” said James Alan Fox, a crim­i­nology pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston. “These people had nowhere to go.”

And then there was the trial. Fer­guson defended him­self in court, cross-​​examining the very people he terrorized.

Fer­guson, who boarded the train in Queens, claimed that he waited to open fire until the train crossed over the New York City border out of respect for David Dinkins, the mayor at the time. He fired method­i­cally over sev­eral min­utes, reloading at least once, before the train arrived at the next sta­tion, where ter­ri­fied sur­vivors ran screaming from the exits.

Read the article at The Wall Street Journal →