Recording Played at Trial in Subway Shootings of Four : ‘Intention Was to Murder,’ Goetz Says on Tape

Times Staff Writer

Subway gunman Bernhard H. Goetz, sounding alternately angry and anguished, told police in a rambling taped confession that “my intention was to murder” the four youths he said were about to mug him on a Manhattan subway.

“When I saw what they intended for me, my intention was, was worse than shooting,” Goetz said on the two-hour tape recording played publicly for the first time Wednesday, at his attempted-murder trial.

“My intention was to, to anything I could do to hurt them. My intention, you know, I know this sounds horrible, but my intention was to murder them, to hurt them, to make them suffer as much as possible.”

Goetz added in his nervous, high-pitched voice that he stopped shooting “when I was out of ammunition. . . . If I had more, I would have shot them again, and again, and again.”


Asked for $5

Goetz made his emotional, detailed confession to police in Concord, N.H., after he walked in and surrendered there on Dec. 31, 1984. Nine days before, he had shot and wounded four black youths with hollow-point bullets in a moving subway car after one had asked him for $5 and the others had surrounded him.

“They had set a trap for me, and only they were trapped,” Goetz said. “It was just so bizarre, it was, I know this is disgusting to say, but it was, it was so easy. I can’t believe it. God.”

Goetz cried at least once during the rambling confession, and he repeatedly answered questions by talking bitterly about being mugged twice before. And Goetz said he was astonished that the shooting, which he called “just one more crime,” drew so much public attention.

“New York City, they never cared about lawlessness before,” he said. “I mean . . . why should this matter.”

Waived Attorney

The four women and eight men on the jury used earphones and printed transcripts to follow the four tapes, which were played through loudspeakers to more than 100 reporters and observers packing the hushed courtroom. Goetz’s videotaped confession will be played later in the trial, which opened Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. The confessions are admissible as evidence because Goetz had been advised of his legal rights and had waived having an attorney present.

On the tapes, Goetz described how he quickly shot one of the youths, Darrell Cabey, a second time in the back after he saw the youth slumped on the floor.


“I wasn’t sure I had shot him before because he just seemed OK,” Goetz said. “Now, I know this sounds, this is gonna sound vicious, and it is. I mean how else can you describe it? I said, ‘You seem to be all right, here’s another.’ ”

Moments later, Goetz admitted being “out of control” when he shot Cabey the second time. “If I was thinking a little bit more clearly, if I was a little more under self-control . . . I would have put the (gun) against his head and fired.”

Checked on Women

Goetz said he checked to see if his victims were “cold” and then checked two women who he thought he might have accidentally shot. He said he then walked over to the youth who had first approached him, Troy Canty, who lay wounded on the floor.


“I still had some hate in my heart,” he said. “I just said to him, in a, in a mean voice, ‘This better be a lesson to you,’ or ‘you better learn.’ No, I think I said, ‘You better learn something from all this.’ ”

In court, Goetz, a thin, 39-year-old self-employed electronics specialist, sat in blue jeans and an open-necked pink shirt as he read a transcript along with the tape. He conferred several times with his two lawyers but showed little expression.

But his attorney, Barry Slotnick, later said in an interview that Goetz had misspoken himself when he described his statement to Cabey before shooting him a second time. The statement is potentially damaging since Slotnick has argued that Goetz fired out of self-defense during an attempted robbery.

‘Recollect Things Differently’


“Oh, no, that never happened,” Slotnick said during a break in the trial. “People whose minds are under stress recollect things differently than they are.”

Slotnick said the tapes showed Goetz as “a poor, sad, broken man who was surrounded and who tried to protect his body.” He said Goetz sounded “sad, put upon and a victim.”

Goetz has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and illegal weapons possession. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

In the tapes, Goetz described in meandering detail what was going through his mind when Canty approached him with “shiny eyes” in the subway car. “They wanted to play with me,” he said. “You know, it’s kind of like a cat plays with a mouse. . . .”


Goetz spoke repeatedly of how he had relied on speed and instinct to shoot the four men and then had run away through the darkened subway tunnel as “all hell broke loose.”

‘Cold-Blooded Way’

“I’m not a fighter, or something like that, but you have to think in a cold-blooded way in New York,” he said.

“I’m not going to try to justify what I did, or something like that. It was monstrous, you know.”


Goetz said he is so fearful in New York that he always carries a gun in his quick-draw holster. He said that he does not wear gloves in winter “because if you wear gloves, you can’t get to the gun, you know?”

Goetz, whose case quickly drew international attention, pleaded with the Concord police to keep his name out of the press. “I don’t want to be paraded around; I don’t want a circus.”

“I’m not going to fight this in the courts,” Goetz said. “They can do whatever they want to me. They can do whatever they want to me, but, but, uh, you know, please, please let me just try to forget it, OK?”