Deadly Mugging Taints The City
Albergotti and David Oats
The stabbing murder of Brian Watkins, a 22-year-old visiting New York to
watch the U.S. Open in 1990, reinforced the nation’s worst images of
New York City and its violent streets and subways.
All that remains in the Tribune’s
of a 1990’s case that effected the image of New York is a grainy
of Brian Watkins.
Watkins was on his way to the Tavern on the
Green with his parents and brother when they were mugged at the 53rd St. and 7th Avenue station, as they attempted to transfer to the D Train.
Eight men from different neighborhoods in
Queens carried out the mugging, something they did routinely to finance
their dance club outings.
While some of the men stood guard and watched
for cops at the top of the staircase, one of the men slashed open the
pocket of Brian’s father, Sherwin and stole his credit cards and $200
in cash. After Karen, Brian’s mother, was attacked and thrown onto the
subway tracks, Brian, and his brother Todd, 26, jumped in to protect
That’s when Brian was stabbed in the chest
with a butterfly knife. He valiantly pursued the attackers, but lost
wind and collapsed on the subway platform stairs, where he died.
The attacks slowed tourism to New York as
national audiences heard accounts of the brutal attack. Watkins was the
18th New York subway murder victim in 1990, but his murder was the first
much of the country heard of the city’s subway ills.
The group of boys who robbed belonged to a gang
called FTS. Seven of the attackers were convicted of the crime and got
25 years to life. They won’t be eligible for parole until 2016.
family agreed to accept at $300,000 settlement in its $100 million
wrongful death suit, and Sherwin Watkins was quoted in the New York
Times as saying he would one day visit the city again.