Colin Ferguson and the Long Island Railroad Massacre

Mugshot - Colin Ferguson
Mugshot - Colin Ferguson

On December 7, 1993, Colin Ferguson boarded a Long Island commuter train and began shooting the passengers with a Ruger P-89 9mm pistol. The incident known as the Long Island Railroad Massacre resulted in six people being killed and 19 injured.

Background

Colin Ferguson was born on January 14, 1959, in Kingston, Jamaica, to Von Herman and May Ferguson. Von Herman worked as the managing director for Hercules Agencies, a large pharmaceutical company.

He was highly regarded and recognized as one of the most prominent businessmen in Jamaica.

Colin and his four brothers enjoyed many of the privileges that come with wealth in a city where extreme poverty is commonplace. He started attending Calabar High School in 1969, and from all appearance, he was a good student and participated in sports. At the time of his graduation in 1974, his grade average was ranked in the top third of his class.

Ferguson's idyllic life came to abrupt halt in 1978. His father was killed in a deadly car crash, and his mother died from cancer not long afterward. Not long after suffering the loss of his parents, Ferguson also had to cope with the loss of the family fortune. The loss of both left Ferguson deeply disturbed.

Move to the United States

At 23-years-old, Ferguson decided to leave Kingston and move to the U.S. on a Visitor's Visa. He was hoping for a fresh start and looked forward to finding a good job on the east coast.

However, it did not take long for his excitement to turn to frustration. The only jobs he could find were low-paying and menial, and he blamed racist Americans as the reason.

On May 13, 1986, three years after his arrival in the U.S., he met and married Audrey Warren. She was an American citizen of Jamaican descent and understood some of the cultural differences that affected her husband's ability to get along.

She was patient and understanding when he would lose his temper and go into a rage, expressing his racial bigotry towards white people who he felt stood in his way.

After they had married the couple moved to a home in Long Island. He continued to rage about the mistreatment and disrespect he was shown by white Americans. After all, he was born to one of the top families in Kingston. Government and military luminaries had attended his father's funeral. But in America, he felt he was treated as nothing. His hatred towards white people was deepening.

The bliss of being newly married did not last long for the couple. Warren found her new husband to be way too hostile and aggressive. They fought with each other regularly and more than once the police were called to their home to break up a fight.

By 1988, just two years into the marriage, Warren divorced Ferguson, stating "differing social views" as the reason. Ferguson was left emotionally crushed by the divorce.

He started working for Ademco Security Group doing clerical work until August 18, 1989, when he hurt himself on the job. He fell from a stool resulting in injuries to his head, neck, and back. The incident also resulted in the loss of his job.

He filed a complaint with the New York State Workers Compensation Board, who took years to come to a resolution. While he waited for their decision, he decided to attend Nassau Community College.

Disciplinary Problems at College

Ferguson's academic performance was strong. He made the dean's list three times but was forced to quit a class for disciplinary reasons. One of his teachers filed a complaint stating that Ferguson was overly aggressive towards him in class.

The incident prompted him to transfer to Adelphi University in Garden City, New York in the fall of 1990 and major in business administration. Ferguson became very outspoken about black power and his dislike of whites. When he wasn't busy calling everyone around him a racist, he would call out for violence and a revolution to overthrow white America.

One incident that was investigated happened at the library where Ferguson said a white woman shouted racial epithets at him when he asked about a class assignment. The investigation found that no such incident had occurred.

In another incident, a faculty member was giving a presentation about her trip to South Africa, when Ferguson interrupted her, shouting, "We should be talking about the revolution in South Africa and how to get rid of the white people." and "Kill everybody white!" An effort by fellow students to get him to quiet down resulted in him chanting, "The black revolution will get you." 

In June 1991, as a result of the incident, Ferguson was suspended from school. He was invited to reapply after satisfying his suspension, but he never returned.

A Brush With the Law

Ferguson moved to Brooklyn in 1991, where he was unemployed and rented a room in the Flatbush neighborhood. At the time, this was a popular area for many West Indian immigrants to live, and Ferguson moved right in the middle. But he kept to himself, rarely saying anything to his neighbors.

In 1992, his ex-wife Warren, who had not seen Ferguson since the divorce, filed a complaint against Ferguson, claiming he had pried open the trunk of her car. A few weeks later, things were boiling up inside Ferguson, and he was nearing the breaking point. It was February, and he was taking the subway when a woman attempted to sit in an empty seat next to him. She asked him to move over, and Ferguson began screaming at her and pressed his elbow and leg up against her until the police intervened.

He attempted to get away and called out, "Brothers, come help me!" to African Americans who were also on the train. Ultimately he was arrested and charged with harassment. In response, Ferguson wrote letters to the police commissioner and the NYC Transit Authority, claiming the police had brutalized him and that they were vicious and racist. The claims were later dismissed after an investigation.

Worker's Compensation Claim is Settled

It took three years for his workman's compensation case to settle.

He was awarded $26,250 for his claim against Ademco Security Group, an amount that he found unsatisfactory. Stating that he was still suffering from pain, he went to talk to a Manhattan law firm about filing another lawsuit. 

He met with Attorney Lauren Abramson, who later said she asked one of the law clerks to join the meeting because she found Ferguson to be threatening and uncomfortable to be around.

When the law firm turned down the case, Ferguson called and wrote members of the firm, accusing them of discrimination. During one of the calls, he referenced a massacre that had happened in California. It bothered many on the firm, to the point to where they were locking the inner-office doors.

Ferguson then tried to get the New York State Workers Compensation Board to reopen the case, but it was rejected. However, Ferguson was placed on a list of potentially dangerous people because of his aggressiveness.

Fed up with New York City, Ferguson decided to move to California in April 1993. He applied for several jobs but was never hired anywhere.

Gun Purchase

That same month, he spent $400 on a Ruger P-89 9mm pistol in Long Beach. He began carrying the gun inside a paper bag after he was mugged by two African Americans.

In May 1993, Ferguson moved back to New York City because, as he explained to a friend, he did not like competing for jobs with immigrants and Hispanics. Since his return to New York, he seemed to be deteriorating quickly. Speaking in the third person, he would go on rants about blacks striking down, "their pompous rulers and oppressors." He showered several times a day and would chant continuously, "all the black people killing all the white people." In return, Ferguson was asked to vacate his apartment by the end of the month.

The Shooting

On December 7, Ferguson boarded a 5:33 p.m. Long Island commuter train leaving from Pennsylvania Station in New York City to Hicksville, New York. On his lap was his gun and 160 rounds of ammunition.

As the train approached Merillon Avenue Station, Ferguson stood up and methodically began firing at passengers, to the right and left, pulling the trigger about every half second, repeating "I'm going to get you."

After emptying two 15-round magazines, he began reloading a third round, when passengers Michael O'Connor, Kevin Blum and Mark McEntee tackled him and held him pinned down until the police arrived.

As Ferguson lay pinned to a seat, he said, "Oh God, what did I do? What did I do? I deserve whatever I get."

Six passengers died

  • Amy Federici, a 27-year-old corporate interior designer from Mineola.
  • James Gorycki, a 51-year-old account executive from Mineola.
  • Mi Kyung Kim, a 27-year-old New Hyde Park resident.
  • Maria Theresa Tumangan Magtoto, a 30-year-old lawyer from Westbury.
  • Dennis McCarthy, a 52-year-old office manager from Mineola and husband of Carolyn McCarthy.
  • Richard Nettleton, a 24-year-old college student from Roslyn Heights.

19 passengers were injured.

The Note in Ferguson's Pockets

When the police searched Ferguson they found several scraps of notebook paper in his pockets with headlines written on them such as, "reasons for this",  "racism by Caucasians and Uncle Tom Negroes", and included the scribbling referencing his February 1992 arrest that said, "the false allegations against me by the filthy Caucasian racist female on the #1 line."

Also included among the notes were the names and telephone numbers of the Lt. Governor, the Attorney General, and the Manhattan law firm that Ferguson had previously threatened, who he referred to as "those corrupt 'black' attorneys who not only refuse to help me but tried to steal my car".

It appeared, based on the content in the notes, that Ferguson planned to wait to start the killings until he was beyond the New York City limit out of respect for outgoing Mayor David Dinkins and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

Ferguson was arraigned on December 8, 1993. He remained silent during the arraignment and refused to enter a plea. He was ordered held without bail. As he was escorted from the courthouse, a reporter asked him if he hated whites, to which Ferguson replied, "It's a lie."

Investigation, Trial, and Sentencing

According to trial testimony, Ferguson suffered from extreme paranoia involving many races, but it was mostly centered around the feeling that white people were out to get him. At some point, his paranoia pushed him into devising a plan of revenge.

To avoid embarrassing New York City mayor David Dinkins, Ferguson selected a commuter train headed to Nassau County. Once the train entered Nassau, Ferguson began shooting, selecting specific white people to gun down and sparing others. The reasons for his selection of who to shoot and who not was never made clear.

After a bizarre circus-like trial in which Ferguson represented himself and rambled on, often repeating himself, he was found guilty and sentenced to 315 years in prison.

Source:
The Long Island Railroad Massacre, A&E American Justice