A Second Kill
On Thursday, March 23, 1978, Willie's cousin, Herman Spates, came to wake him up. Willie strapped on his gun and holster and proposed they go get some money. It was only four days since he had killed a man and he was feeling tough. They walked over to the Number 3 subway train at 148th Street and Lexington Avenue.
In the yard, they spotted a motorman named Anthony Lamorte, from Brooklyn. He had a CB radio that the boys believed would bring them one hundred dollars on the street. They followed him.
Lamorte was nearing the end of his shift, which involved cutting or adding train cars as demanded, and he spotted Willie and Herman where they didn't belong.
"You're not supposed to be here," he said. "Get the hell out."
Willie was not going to be told what to do by some white man. That was the enemy. "Why don't you come down here and make us get out?" he challenged.
Lamorte climbed down the steps of the car he was in and approached them. He thought that Willie looked baby-faced, much too young to be getting into trouble. When he was about thirty feet away, Willie pulled out his gun and demanded the man's radio and money.
Lamorte, sensing something bad, turned back to the subway car. He heard the boys running toward him, and then came a popping sound. He felt a numbness in his back and right shoulder. Shortly afterward, he heard the boys running away. He walked to the dispatcher's office and said he thought that he had been shot.
Willie and Herman got out fast, but over the course of the next three nights, pulled three more violent robberies. They got twelve dollars from a man they had kicked down the steps to the A train station. Next, they shot 57 year-old Matthew Connolly in the hip when he resisted them. Willie was grabbed and searched, but the Transit Authority patrolman completely missed the gun he'd hid in his pants. When the victim failed to identify him, Willie felt invincible. He knew he was smarter than the law and could get away with anything.
On Monday, March 27th, Willie and Herman jumped the turnstile on 135th Street and entered the last car of the uptown train. There was only one passenger on it, a Hispanic man in his late thirties.
Willie posted Herman at the front of the car, knowing the man could not get out at the next stop because of the short platform. He took out his gun and demanded the man's money.
"I ain't got any," the man told them.
That was the wrong thing to say. Willie pulled the trigger. The man slid from his seat to the floor, his blood pooling out around him. Willie went through his pockets and found two dollars. The man's wallet revealed his name: Moises Perez (no relation to Willie's first victim).
Willie flung the wallet in the trash and walked back home with Herman, laughing over his exploit. He felt like a big-time killer now, a Bad Man. When it made the front pages of the next day's newspaper, he proudly showed his sister.
Ironically, that same day the Division for Youth in Albany had given final approval for Willie to be adopted as a foster child by a couple he had hoped to live with. All of that was now to change, and it was not only Willie's life that would be dramatically altered, but the lives of every kid his age in New York who committed a violent crime.