When Crazy Speaks Violence

The other evening, the idiot box aired a program about Maksim Gelman, also known as Mad Maks or the Butcher of Brighton Beach. Gelman, besides being nuttier than a squirrel turd, gained fame by going on a stabbing spree over two days in February of 2011. The interesting thing about this particular show was that they had interviews with both Maksim as well as his victims. It’s rare that you get to hear from a truly unhinged person, and boy did he love to do some talking . . .

Trying to understand someone who goes on a stabbing rampage in the Safest Big City in America is a mind-bending exercise. Don’t try. But understanding the events that transpired, you can see a series of victims who made it easier on a complete lunatic to attack them. And before someone calls me a victim blamer, I’m not. Maksim bears the ultimate responsibility for the events that transpired. But let Wikipedia give you the synopsis of his spree.

Police reports state that just after 5:00 a.m.[3] on February 11, 2011, Gelman stabbed and killed his mother’s companion Aleksandr Kuznetsov in Brooklyn after an argument with his mother about driving Kuznetsov’s vehicle.[4]His mother was not physically hurt. Gelman then took the vehicle and sped off in it, running over a crossing guard and breaking her leg.[5]

Gelman then went to the house of a female acquaintance named Yelena Bulchenko, where he killed her mother Anna at about 10:30 a.m.[3] He then allegedly left the crime scene and waited several hours for Yelena, who had been staying at a friend’s house, to return home. Once she did, she found Anna dead and called 9-1-1, but Gelman was on his way back to the scene to check if she returned home. Upon arrival at about 4:00 p.m.,[3] he spotted her outside on the phone and got out the car, to which she yelled at him. He hid the knife in his pocket and approached her, but she took off running. However, Gelman caught up with her and stabbed her eleven times, killing her, before speeding off in Kuznetsov’s car. Ramming into another car, Gelman stabbed and wounded the driver, Arthur DiCrescento, three times when he confronted him, before carjacking the vehicle.[3] Gelman later ran down 62-year-old pedestrian Stephen Tanenbaum, who subsequently died of his injuries.[6][7]

Afterwards, Gelman abandoned DiCrescento’s car just before 1:00 a.m. of February 12[3] and hailed a livery cab before stabbing its driver, Fitz Fullerton. He then approached another car with a couple inside and attacked the driver, Shelden Pottinger, stabbing him multiple times in the hand. He then stole Pottinger’s vehicle and drove off in it.[3][4][7] After boarding a northbound 3 train at 34th Street – Penn Station just after 8:00 a.m., he stabbed Joseph Lozito, a ticket seller at Lincoln Center.[8] By this time, passengers recognized him from a newspaper article about his killing spree and notified authorities.[7]

According to some reports,[6] Gelman started banging on the door of a motorman’s cab, demanding to be let in, at which point two police officers assigned to the manhunt arrived and subdued him after a struggle with Lozito’s help. However, other accounts[9][10] stated that Lozito engaged in a physical confrontation that subdued Gelman, while officers Terrance Howell and Tamara Taylor hid in the motorman’s cab, and did not come out until Lozito had disarmed Gelman and pinned him on the ground.[6][9]

There are a few lessons to be learned here. First, gun bans don’t stop determined people from killing. At all. Never have. Second, carjackings get exponentially easier when you roll the windows down and leave your doors unlocked. I was reminded of KR Training’s PTS course I took in June of 2012 which dealt specifically with carjackings. The biggest lesson was to lock your doors and keep your windows up. But if somebody does get in the car, point your car at the nearest solid object and accelerate rapidly.

Sheldon Pottinger’s account of the events that transpired indicated that he rolled the window down for Gelman at which point Gelman started stabbing and beating him. Pottinger managed to escape by leaping from the car at speed.

Lastly, the police have no duty to protect you. TTAG has beaten the drum hard on that point, and the Gelman spree further reinforces the point. Joseph Lozito, a ticket seller at Lincoln Center received multiple injuries at Gelman’s hand before he was finally subdued. Lozito ended up suing the city of New York for their officers’ actions during the final moments of Gelman’s spree.

Instead of trying to disprove Lozito’s story, the city successfully argued that the men and women of the NYPD have no duty to protect the city’s citizens.

Lozito says a grand-jury member later told him Howell admitted on the stand that he hid during the attack because he thought Gelman had a gun.

An angry Lozito decided to sue the city for negligence, arguing the cops should have recognized Gelman and prevented, or reacted more quickly to, the assault.

The city routinely settles such litigation but is playing hardball with Lozito, insisting his demand for unspecified money damages be tossed because the police had no “special duty” to protect him or any individual on the train that day.

“Under well-established law, the police are not liable for such incidents,” said city lawyer David Santoro. “That doesn’t detract from the Police Department’s public safety mission — or the fact that New York is the safest big city in America.”

Folks, you’re responsible for yourselves, and we can’t belabor that enough. The police have no duty to protect you, so you must be prepared to do it. In the face of absolute crazy, the only language that is understood is overwhelming and disproportionate violence until the threat is stopped.

If a guy like Gelman manages to get in your car, turn it into a weapon, and run it hard into the nearest solid object. Likely, you’re wearing a seat belt and your attacker is not. Even if you don’t incapacitate your attacker, you’ve probably bought yourself some time to form a second plan of attack. And carry, carry, carry if you can (and Gleman’s New Yorker victims couldn’t – legally). Obviously, this entire spree could be filed under “Should Have Been a DGU” as Gelman could have been stopped multiple times by citizens armed and willing to end the threat.

comments

  1. avatar Hal says:

    Should have been a DGU

    1. avatar BDub says:

      It was a whole string of should-have-been-a-DGUs

    2. avatar Raul Ybarra says:

      No, we need to do like the Brits and ban knives, as well, unless you can justify owning one to law enforcement. Look how well that has helped violence over on their side of the pond.

      Oops? You don’t say? Never mind…

  2. avatar Mediocrates says:

    which is why I’ll never set foot in a slave state….

    1. avatar Paco says:

      BS. If you live in the US you are already living in a slave state. Whether or not you are allowed to own a firearm is irrelevant.

  3. They hid because they thought he had a gun? Dont they have guns too? WTactualF?

    1. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      The eloquence of your final question is perfect for this particular situation.

      Absolutely amazing. And disgusting.

      They made it home that night, though. So, all’s good, right David Santoro?

  4. avatar Ralphie says:

    And Gelman is still alive and breathing today…………..really? When are we going to hand out the punishment for this kind of behavior?

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Normally I’d say death by firing squad, but I think a stabbing squad would be more appropriate. Whereas liberal progressives will say we should put him in prison where he will cost taxpayers $35-40 K / year until he dies. Then a liberal reporter will wait 5-10 years before using him for a “human interest” piece.

    2. avatar gp says:

      It will never be safe to incarcerate a criminal this vicious. He will be a lethal threat to corrections officers for decades.

  5. avatar Matthew Park Moore says:

    I agree with all of that except that you should reword the last sentence in the next to last paragraph:

    “In the face of absolute crazy, the only language that is understood is —overwhelming and disproportionate— violence until the threat is stopped.”

    Should be something like:

    “In the face of absolute crazy, the only language that is understood is —necessary and proportionate— violence until the threat is stopped.”

    The legal standard for the lawful use of force is always that it must be necessary and proportionate, or similar words to the same effect. Suggesting that people use disproportionate force is inviting them to risk a lengthy prison sentence.

    1. avatar Lucas D. says:

      And your idea of proportionate response to a madman about to stab you to death is…?

      1. avatar Matthew Park Moore says:

        Shoot him dead, of course, in this specific case. All I’m saying is you have to be careful about making blanket statements that could be taken out of context.

        I used to teach NRA self defense courses and we were always careful about how we stated such advise, precisely because our lawyers warned us not to overstate it and leave ourselves open to accusations of disproportional incitement.

        1. avatar Lucas D. says:

          An especially crooked prosecutor can argue that shooting a knife-wielding attacker is disproportionate response, and an especially stupid judge could believe it. Since being attacked and forced to defend yourself by killing somebody is already considered rolling snake eyes in the cosmic dice game, you just have to hope in such a case that saner heads are conducting your trial, if it even goes that far.

          Generally speaking, taking an attacker’s life is pretty much where we hit the ceiling when it comes to use of force, and it’s only disproportionate if they weren’t threatening your life, or if, say, the first shot incapacitated him, he dropped the knife and surrendered, and then you continued to pump him full of lead.

        2. avatar Andy says:

          @ Lucas D

          In response to your last statement, a study I read showed that once you make the decision to start shooting and are pulling the trigger multiple times, by the time the brain registers that there is no longer a threat, puts together that you should stop pulling the trigger, and sends that signal down to your finger, the average person from the study pulled the trigger 3 times after they knew the threat was eliminated. There was a large amount of psychological speech and jargon, so I cannot speak about the details but the results were fairly straightforward for the psychological lay person.

    2. avatar Sean says:

      Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.
      -Niccolò Machiavelli

  6. avatar Roscoe says:

    @ Travis in Columbia, SC, above:

    “WTactualF?”

    Poorly trained cops, or just plain cowards, or both.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      In it for the paycheck, with the added bonus of being able to bully normal citizens. Last thing on their minds is taking any personal risk.

  7. avatar CTsheepdog says:

    “nuttier than a squirrel turd” – I see what you did there – Bwahahahahaha, bwahahahahaha

  8. avatar Jon says:

    As a former NYC resident and NYC handgun permit holder (not carry), I just want to clarify about the law in NYC. If you have a non-carry handgun permit in NYC, known as a “residence-premises permit,” you can carry the handgun to and from the range, etc. so long as its unloaded, in a locked container with ammo separate. However, if you happen to load it up and carry it concealed, and then you happen to get caught with it, you do not get charged with a crime. At least the last time I checked, you are only in violation of the terms of your permit, and the worst punishment they can bring to bear is to take away your permit forever.

    Thus, there is sort of a loophole there allowing you to carry without getting slapped with a felony.

    1. avatar Hannibal says:

      Wrong. What you said would be correct for the rest of NY, where such limitations are administrative. But in NYC there are separate permits laid out in the penal law and if you’re in violation you have nothing over a regular criminal.

  9. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    Everytime I get into a gun debate with friends/family back in NY, I bring up this story after they give me the “just call the police” line.

    1. avatar Shire-man says:

      Lean in and start punching them in the face. When they cry “stop! stop!” reply with “just call the police.”
      I may not have turned an anti but I convinced him to stop berating me for being a gun owner by tackling him to the ground, sitting on his chest and setting a kitchen timer to five minutes. I said “the police are on their way. Average response time around here is 5 minutes.” While we waited I told him what was (hypothetically) happening to his property, pets, family and him.

      These “just call the police” types are too insulated from the real world.

      1. avatar BDub says:

        Your approach may need some polish.

      2. avatar Tyler Kee says:

        I laughed.

      3. avatar BillC says:

        While we waited I told him what was (hypothetically) happening to his property, pets, family and him.

        -I seriously just laughed out loud in public.

    2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      “Just call the police…”

      Are usually follow that up with, “you’ve never actually been in a fight, of any kind, have you?”

  10. avatar esitue says:

    Slave States
    this about sums it up
    Good write-up Tyler
    advise:
    Leave Austin

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Why in the world leave Austin? Take a course once and licensed to carry for life, with occasional paperwork required. Carry what you want, including the gun you bought 5 minutes ago, no paperwork. Own NFA weapons. Hunt, fish, shoot, I have had problems shooting long range without extensive preparation, but 1000 yards really is a long ways. I’ve liked guns forever find Austin just fine, been carrying here since 20 years before it was a legal possibility, never been hassled. There are a LOT of worse places to live, and none of them are the live music capital of the world.

      1. avatar GenghisQuan says:

        Because Austin is a cesspool of leftism in an otherwise decent if a little religiously conservative state. And because it’s overrun by hipsters and lacks good Asian food. Houston forever, baby.

        Source: I live there.

  11. avatar Full Cleveland says:

    If the police have no duty to provide protection then why do they need guns?

    1. avatar nemsis says:

      Police officers carry guns to protect themselves just like you should be.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      To protect themselves. Because nothing is more important than getting home safe.

    3. avatar Tmmy! says:

      No duty to protect the plebes, they carry guns to protect themselves… damn, y’all are quicker on the draw than I am!

    4. avatar GS650G says:

      Having guns makes it easy to Lord over all of us.

  12. avatar jwm says:

    The Bernhard Goetz solution was called for.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      YES!

      If I remember correctly he was also the object of spontaneous jury nullification as well.

      1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        Unfortunately the jury in NYC, while acquitting him of the more serious charges, found him guilty of carrying an “unlicensed firearm.” He went to jail for 8 months. About a decade later a civil suit was filed by one of the poor misguided yoots that ended up in a wheelchair. The bleeding hearts on the jury awarded the thug $43 million. However, Goetz claims to not have paid a penny to the guy.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          Perhaps but his own life was turned upside down and isn’t exactly roses and sunshine.

  13. avatar Bob says:

    I am surprised the case Warren vs The District of Columbia was not mentioned in this article.
    I recommend those who are not familiar with the case read about it.

  14. avatar Jus Bill says:

    “Under well-established law, the police are not liable for such incidents,” said city lawyer David Santoro. “That doesn’t detract from the Police Department’s public safety mission…”

    After reading that very closely several times and trying to follow the logic, my brain stopped working. Thank you.

  15. avatar GS650G says:

    They should use this guy for ballistics testing. Then execute him.

  16. avatar Bernard says:

    “…or the fact that New York is the safest big city in America.”
    Wait, what? Could someone explain that to me?

  17. avatar Peter says:

    This type of incident raises the ethical question, If you are carrying illegally in a city like New York and see such an attack, should you risk prison by intervening?
    Now if me or mine are attacked it is a different story but, involving yourself in a strangers matters where you don’t even know if there is a back story? For example, we have all seen the mob beating videos and think it should have been a DGU but shooting a minority “child” will bring the Holder DOJ down on you like a ton of bricks.

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