Monday, August 14, 2017

40 years ago: The Summer of Sam

Forty years ago was the Summer of Sam in New York City. David Berkowitz—the Son of Sam--a postal employee from Yonkers killed six and wound seven. He used a .44 caliber revolver and he not only terrified the city—he became a legend. 
According to Irish Central, there had been much speculation that the “Son of Sam” nickname referred to a former US soldier perhaps, but Berkowitz said that the "Sam" was his former neighbor Sam Carr. Berkowitz claimed that Carr's black Labrador retriever Harvey was possessed by an ancient demon and that it issued irresistible commands that Berkowitz must kill people.
New York in 1977 felt like a city under siege. The City of New York was broke. There were 1,919 murders. The subways had wall-to-wall graffiti and more robbers than cops, the potholes were never filled, and in certain areas of the city—like the South Bronx and even what is now lower Columbus Avenue in Manhattan—it looked like Berlin at the end of World War II.
Son of Sam was arrested 40 years ago this month. A woman, Cacilia Davis, saw Berkowitz return to his car his arm held stiffly by his side, holding the gun he had just used for his final killing.
He stared her down. Disconcerted, she took off for home and heard shots as Berkowitz fired after her. Terrified, she did not report the incident until four days later. When the police investigaed, it led them to Yonkers and Berkowitz.
Unlike his terror, his surrender did not end with a bang, but rather a whimper. He was arrested on August 10th outside his apartment without incident. New York’s summer of fear and agony was over.
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