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Gunman Still Missing, But Suspected Mugger Arrested

April 15, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ The subway gunman who fatally shot a mugger two days ago ignored pleas to surrender on Saturday, but police charged a 17-year-old with being one of four men who attacked him.

The gunman’s whereabouts remained a mystery as officers continued searching garbage cans and subway stations for a clue to his identity.

The arrested youth, Melvin Kirkland of Brooklyn, was charged late Friday with second degree robbery and second degree assault in connection with the subway incident, said Sgt. Nick Vreeland, a police spokesman.

Kirkland allegedly was one of four men who attacked the subway rider Thursday night. The victim retaliated by pulling a gun from his waist and firing three times, hitting and killing one of the assailants.

Vreeland said he had no details on how police tracked down Kirkland.

A chrome .25-caliber automatic believed to have been used by one of the attackers was found by police. The attackers were also armed with a retractable razor. They were among a group of more than a dozen men who were smoking marijuana and drinking brandy inside the subway before the assault.

After the man was beaten and robbed, he pulled a handgun from his waistband and fired three shots at his assailants. A 25-year-old man with a half-dozen robbery convictions was fatally wounded by one of the bullets while six other passengers looked on.

The shooter walked off the train at the next stop and disappeared, as did the three surviving muggers. Police on Friday issued a public appeal for the man to turn himself in, emphasizing that he was considered a victim.

″This is not the Bernhard Goetz case,″ said Brooklyn Chief of Detectives Joseph DeMartino.

Goetz received national attention after shooting four youths on a subway train on Dec. 22, 1984. Police said the shootings were different because Goetz was not attacked before he fired; the Thursday night shooter had been assaulted before he pulled a gun.

One of Goetz’s attorneys recommended the gunman keep his anonymity. Goetz surrendered to police in New Hampshire nine days after his incident.

″If he calls, we’ll tell him to sit tight and lay low until and unless the police determine his name,″ said lawyer Mark Baker.

A search of trash cans, subway tracks and gutters in downtown Brooklyn failed to turn up the gunman’s wallet, which one witness told police had been stolen by the assailants, said police spokesman Sgt. Norris Hollomon.

The slaying was the ninth this year in the subways; there were 20 in all of 1989.

The shooter is not the only man still at large after killing a mugger on a train. The ″Subway Samaritan″ disappeared and was never identified after fatally stabbing a man who was robbing another subway rider last Dec. 9.

04-14-90 2207EST

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