New York – A retiree who witnessed Marine Veteran Daniel Penny fatally choke an erratic homeless man on a train earlier this month called him a hero and slammed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for prosecuting him.
“He’s a hero,” said the passenger, who has lived in New York City more than 50 years.
“It was self-defense, and I believe in my heart that he saved a lot of people that day that could have gotten hurt,” she told Fox News Digital.
Jordan Neely, 30, who suffered from mental illness, stormed onto the F-Train at about 2:30 p.m. May 1 screaming and threatening passengers, she said.
“I’m sitting on a train reading my book, and, all of a sudden, I hear someone spewing this rhetoric. He said, ‘I don’t care if I have to kill an F, I will. I’ll go to jail, I’ll take a bullet,’” recalled the woman, who is in her 60s.
The passengers were terrified and crowded toward the exit doors.
“I’m looking at where we are in the tube, in the sardine can, and I’m like, ‘OK, we’re in between stations. There’s nowhere we can go,’” she said. “The people on that train, we were scared. We were scared for our lives.”
Penny stepped in when Neely started using the word “kill” and “bullet.”
“Why in the world would you take a bullet? Why? You don’t take a bullet because you’ve snatched something from somebody’s hand. You take a bullet for violence,” she added.
The witness said it was clear to her that Penny waited until the last minute to intervene for the sake of his fellow passengers.
She heard a thump when he dragged Neely to the ground but couldn’t see clearly until the doors opened at the Broadway-Lafayette station and most of the passengers exited.
The witness waited for police to arrive and provided a statement.
“Mr. Penny cared for people. That’s what he did. That is his crime,” she told Fox News Digital. After the altercation, she and at least three other passengers thanked him.
But he seemed shaken, the woman said.
Two men, who have not been publicly identified, helped hold down Neely’s arms during the altercation.
“It took three men to hold Mr. Neely down. He was struggling,” the witness said.
After widespread protests erupted across the city, with many demonstrators and even politicians calling Penny a “murderer,” Bragg charged Penny.
Freelance journalist Alberto Vazquez began recording the confrontation after Neely was already in a chokehold and offered a second account of the homeless man’s conduct.
“He started screaming in an aggressive manner,” Vazquez told the New York Post. “He said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail. He started screaming all these things, took off his jacket, a black jacket that he had, and threw it on the ground.”
The narrative that has emerged has become about race — a White man who fatally choked a Black man, the witness said.
“This isn’t about race. This is about people of all colors who were very, very afraid and a man who stepped in to help them,” she said. “Race is being used to divide us.”