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New York Man Charged After Trying To Help Woman Being Robbed By Homeless Man In Subway: Police

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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: A man walks past a subway stop in Manhattan two days after a man was pushed to his death in front of a train on December 5, 2012 in New York City. The incident was caught by a photographer and has since raised questions as to why someone didn't help the man before the train struck him. The New York City subway system, with 468 stations in operation, is the most extensive public transportation system in the world. It is also one of the world's oldest public transit systems, with the first underground line of the subway opening on October 27, 1904.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

A man in New York City has been charged with reckless endangerment after he stepped in to help a woman who was being robbed at a subway station by a homeless man and fired several shots, according to police. 

John Rote, 43, was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and menacing after he allegedly fired two shots in the direction of a mugger who had accosted a woman at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night at a subway station in Manhattan, according to the New York Times.

New York officials blasted Rote, saying that what he did was unacceptable.

“I want to be clear: we don’t tolerate this kind of conduct in NYC Transit, period,” said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. “Once again cameras recorded a perpetrator, and we are grateful the NYPD made an arrest within hours. Thank goodness nobody was hurt here – but what occurred was outrageous, reckless, and unacceptable.”

Matthew Roesch, 49, allegedly accosted a woman while he was holding open an emergency gate. Police say that he then tried to take her purse which was when “another customer pulled out a gun and tried to intervene,” according to Davey. 

“Roesch demands a dollar for letting her enter the subway illegally,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny. “Mr. Roesch begins to follow her, demanding money. She won’t give it to him. He says, ‘Give me a dollar, or I’m going to take your purse.’”

Rote then told Roesch to “leave her alone” before firing a shot at Roesch’s feet, according to Kenny. Police say Rote told them that he threw his gun into the East River after the incident.

“He was concerned, asking if he hurt anybody,” said Kenny. “It was just an impulsive thing to do. He’s just stepping in, he thought he was trying to help this woman.”

Roesch now faces attempted robbery charges and was released under court-ordered supervision while Rote was held on $10,000 bail. 

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According to NYPD Inspector Steven Hill, Roesch is known to pressure commuters to give him money and has been a “constant problem.” 

One man who knows Rote told the New York Daily News that he is “a decent guy … He seems very mild-mannered. I don’t know whether he’s going to lose his job, but me personally, I think he shouldn’t. I think the [woman] should be thankful.”

The case echoes another incident from the New York City subway where former Marine Daniel Penny was charged after he restrained a homeless man on a subway who passengers say was acting erratically and threatening violence. The homeless man died and Penny faces charges of second-degree manslaughter and negligent homicide.

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