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Case Study: Man Fires ‘Warning Shot’ in NYC Subway to Stop Robbery Attempt

Case Study: Man Fires ‘Warning Shot’ in NYC Subway to Stop Robbery Attempt

As concealed carriers, one of the best training tools we have is to study a variety of self-defense cases and learn from them.

By evaluating these situations and looking at what went wrong, what went right, and how it might have been handled differently, we gain a better understanding of how these incidents unfold and become better prepared to defend ourselves.

On November 7, 2023, a man fired at a vagrant in a Manhattan subway station to stop a robbery in progress. Let’s break it down.

Incident Breakdown

An attempted robbery was thwarted at the Midtown subway station near Times Square when a bystander pulled his gun and fired at a homeless man who was trying to steal a woman’s purse one November night.

A partial video of the incident can be viewed here to give you a better idea of what happened. WARNING: The video may be disturbing to some viewers.

The incident began around 10 p.m. when a woman who was trying to board the subway encountered a homeless man who held the emergency gate open for her and demanded money in return, according to the New York Post.

Man Fires ‘Warning Shot’ in NYC Subway to Stop Robbery Attempt

The man, who was later identified as 49-year-old Matthew Roesch, reportedly would not take “no” for an answer and followed the woman after she denied his request.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to give him any money’ and kept walking. He followed me. He kept demanding money, and he said, ‘If you don’t give me money, I’m going to take your bag.’ I was trying to walk away from him, but he was following me and getting very close,” the woman told the New York Post.

The man allegedly started yelling at the woman and tried to take her bag by force.

At that moment, 43-year-old John Rote can be seen on camera setting down a bag, removing his backpack, and drawing a handgun from it. He pointed it in the general direction of the ongoing confrontation, yelled at Roesch to “Get the f**k away from her,” and fired a warning shot.

Case Note: Using your “command voice” to verbally warn an attacker before firing is strongly recommended in confrontations such as this, as it gives them the opportunity to back off before the situation escalates. Pulling the trigger should be a last resort and avoided if possible.

The shot apparently didn’t faze Roesch, who continued to yell at the woman and demand that she give him money.

Rote is seen waiting for a moment before firing another round toward the ongoing confrontation. He then picked up his backpack and started to step closer to them, while continuing to yell at Roesch to back away from the woman.

Case Note: One of the four cardinal rules of gun safety is to be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. This is a hard thing to do in a public place like a subway station, and impossible when the assailant is still standing right next to the victim.

Roesch finally realized what was going on and stopped what he was doing, giving the woman a chance to run and hide. Rote reportedly left the station before police arrived at the station.

Case Note: Never leave the scene after a defensive encounter unless absolutely necessary for your own safety. It’s best to wait until law enforcement arrives so you can tell them what happened. In the vast majority of cases, the authorities will want to formally question you at the police station.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.

The Aftermath

Man Who Fires ‘Warning Shot’ in NYC is detained by authorities

Police quickly arrived at the scene and immediately apprehended Roesch, who was charged with third-degree attempted robbery, according to the New York Times.

Rote was arrested the next day at work after someone made an anonymous tip to law enforcement, recognizing him from the security camera footage that police released, according to a New York Post article.

While being questioned by police, Rote allegedly admitted to firing the gun in the subway station and told officers that he had thrown the firearm into the East River.

He was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, and menacing. He was held on a $10,000 bail, which he posted two days later and returned to his home in Queens.

He faces up to three and a half years in prison if convicted.

At his arraignment, Rote’s defense attorney, Marie Calvert-Kilbane, said that he was just a “concerned citizen” looking out for a stranger.

“[He was] concerned for his safety and someone else’s safety and reacted,” she said.


NYC Police officers closing down subway entrance with yellow tape

After learning the details of the encounter, it’s time to reflect on what happened and how you might have handled the same situation.

Do you think the shooter was justified in this incident? Why or why not? Do you think there was anything that could or should have been done differently? How would you have handled the same situation? Be sure to share your thoughts on this concealed carry case with us on social media @VedderHolsters.

Knowledge is power, and analyzing incidents like these can only serve to better prepare you to respond appropriately in the event you are faced with a similar situation. For more resources on training, information on local gun control and concealed carry laws, and general CCW tips, check out the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

If you’re looking for a new IWB, OWB, or pocket carry holster, visit our Holsters by Gun Model page for Kydex holsters that are custom-made for your weapon of choice.

Interested in items beyond holsters? Check out our Resources Page for links to recommended products like lights, lasers, first aid, maintenance, and more, and browse our selection of belts, apparel, and accessories at our website,

To stay up-to-date on all the latest Vedder Holsters content and offerings, check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And be sure to visit our sister company, GeoGrit, for all of your American-made minimalist wallet needs.

Mikayla Blair

After launching her career as an award-winning journalist in the American Southwest, Mikayla Blair joined the Vedder Holsters team as a content writer in 2021. She writes about all things guns, holsters, and concealed carry, and is especially passionate about women's self-defense.

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