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Subway ‘Vigilantes’ Aren’t The Problem, They’re A Symptom Of NYC’s Crime Catastrophe

If NYC truly cracked down on crime, a known aggressor like Roesch wouldn’t have robbed and Rote wouldn’t have shot.


Is a man who uses his firearm to foil a crime a hero or a villain? According to New York City, people like John Rote, who saved a woman in a subway station by firing a warning shot to deter a robber demanding her purse, are vigilantes who deserve to be punished with potentially years in prison.

Matthew Roesch, a 49-year-old homeless man with a criminal record, demanded a woman pay him $1 for letting her through an emergency turnstile for free. When she refused, he threatened to snatch her purse.

John Rote, who appears to have lived in New York City for nearly two decades, saw the crime and didn’t hesitate to intervene on behalf of the woman.

“Get away from her!” Rote reportedly yelled before pulling his silver pistol — which he obtained legally 13 years ago, according to his attorney — out of his backpack and firing a shot near Roesch’s feet. After reportedly firing a second shot, Rote holstered his gun in his bag and exited the station after confirming that Roesch was deterred from bothering the woman. No injuries were reported.

The New York Police Department arrested and charged Rote on Tuesday night with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm, reckless endangerment, and menacing. Prosecutors told the New York Post Rote faces three and a half years in prison if convicted.

Roesch also faced arrest and one charge of attempted robbery. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of seven years.

Righteous Or Reckless?

During a press conference about the incident, New York City Transit President Richard Davey claimed Rote was “weird” for calmly neutralizing the threat.

“Thank goodness nobody was hurt here but what occurred was outrageous, reckless, and unacceptable,” Davey concluded.

Any firearms instructor will tell you that Rote’s decision to fire his weapon in a busy subway was not advised. But what Davey completely missed in his press conference-turned-plea for gun control is the reason Rote fired the gun in the first place.

Why did a man with no apparent connection to the 40-year-old woman who was harassed feel the need to intervene in a routine mugging? Maybe because he’s seen one too many news stories about some of the thousands of robberies in Gotham turning into full-fledged assaults or even murder.

People like an unsuspecting bodega worker, a guy pumping his gas, a deli employee, and a soft-on-crime activist have all died in 2023 as the result of NYC stickups or street confrontations that went south.

NYPD Inspector Steven Hill admitted that alleged harasser Roesch was “a constant problem” and “swiper” who often camped out at the subway’s emergency gate to hold the gate open and then demand tips from people taking advantage of the open entryway. Hill’s department even arrested Roesch in September on a theft of service charge before releasing him back to the streets.

If police were doing their jobs, a known aggressor like Roesch wouldn’t be at subway stations repeatedly demanding city-dwellers hand over their money and Rote wouldn’t feel the need to take matters into his own hands.

When Cops Are Away, Criminals Play, and Citizens Who Step in Pay

NYC is governed by soft-on-crime politicians and ruled by regulations that let criminals back onto the streets instead of keeping them behind bars. The blue city’s willingness to scale back punishment for the people terrorizing NYC’s streets and subway stations leaves crimefighting to citizens like Rote and Daniel Penny, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter and negligent homicide after restraining a homeless black man with 42 prior arrests from harming subway passengers.

As cities like NYC continue to decline, defense shootings will only become more common. Unfortunately for law-abiding gun owners who seek to protect their lives, property, and community from rampant crime, those shootings will only fuel Democrats’ gun control wishes.

Already, NYC officials like Davey are using Rote’s trigger-pulling as an example of why “we need to get a handle on the gun issue in the city.” They claim the rise in “vigilantism” is the problem instead of a symptom of a much deeper issue.

Americans have a constitutional right bear to arms and the Supreme Court has ruled New York can’t make it harder for people to pack heat for self-defense, but that won’t stop far-left officials from punishing the people who use their weapons to fend off bad guys.

It’s clear now more than ever that citizens of NYC now face a difficult choice. They can choose to be damned to living in a hellhole of drugs, thievery, and murder ushered in by corrupt, soft-on crime overlords, or they can choose to be damned to possible jail time if they do something to stop the crime creep.

The campaign to turn one man’s apparently heroic act of protecting a woman from a thief into a villainous offense proves that in cities run by Democrats who neglect crime, the law-abiding citizens always lose.

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