After firing 15 shots, he calmly reloaded and fired 15 more, aiming the pistol alternately to the right and left as he walked down the aisle of the carriage. As he was about to reload for a third time, three passengers who work on Wall Street rushed at him and pinned him down until the train came to Garden City station. An off- duty policeman who had come to meet his wife off the train arrested Mr Ferguson. Yesterday he was charged with four counts of murder.
One of the Wall Street men, Kevin Blum, said Mr Ferguson dropped the gun as he rushed at him. 'He had a blank look like he knew he had done something wrong,' Mr Blum said.
The nightmare ride began at 5.33pm when the train left Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. Just after 6pm, Mr Ferguson, who is unemployed and lives in Brooklyn, took the pistol out of a small canvas bag and began shooting. Passengers screamed 'Man with a gun]' and tried to get to one end of the carriage.
One of the wounded passengers, Robert Giuliano, said the gunman approached his seat and he thought he was dead. He whispered 'get down' to two women he always sees on the 5.33 and was then shot in the chest. He is in hospital in stable condition. A female commuter, Moreno Rotundi, 30, was getting ready to get off the train. 'I just crouched down under the seat and prayed,' she said. Another passenger, Thomas Bourgeois, 41, an accountant, said, 'I heard some yells and screams and a pop- pop-pop-pop and I bolted into the next carriage and told the engineer. He didn't believe me at first, but I guess he could tell by the look on my face that I wasn't kidding.' There was little the engineer could do while the shooting was going on, however. The gunman never uttered a word and was calm when led away in handcuffs.
Relatives and friends had an agonising wait at the station before police identified the dead. Some residents, who had moved to Long Island to escape the violence of Manhattan and Brooklyn, said they were fearful that such terror might happen again.
Mr Ferguson faces life imprisonment, there being no death penalty in New York state. Police said they found papers on him complaining about the racism of state officials and 'so-called civil rights leaders'. He apparently wanted to shoot white people, but not in New York City out of respect for the outgoing black mayor, David Dinkins.