31 years ago on September 2nd, 1990
Brian Watkins is stabbed and killed after confronting a group of teens trying to rob his family
The Watkins were visiting New York from Utah to see the U.S. Open tennis tournament, but were approached and harassed by a group on the subway. Brian's senseless murder brought a new focus on the city's crime rate, which had been increasing and would set an all-time record for number of murders that year, with 2,245 people killed (an average of six per day).
A group of teenagers were quickly arrested and charged, with all but one confessing to the attack. 25 years later, one of those convicted would be released, citing new evidence in the case.
The attack on Brian's family and his death while trying to protect them served as a turning point in New York. It brought about newspaper headlines and political speeches decrying what the city had become. The 1990 attack brought an increase in police across the city and a renewed focus on decreasing crime that had overtaken the city since the 1970s. Crime in the city dropped year to year, and seven years after Brian's death, murders in the city had dropped by two-thirds. As of 2018, there were 289 murders in the city, nearly 10 times lower than the number from 1990.
Brian's family sued the city for $100 million but settled the case for $300,000 eight years later.