Every so often, a crime comes along that’s so extraordinarily senseless, it doesn’t just grip New York—it makes national headlines.
Tennis fan Watkins, 22, and his family were in from Utah to see the U.S. Open. On the night of September 2, they entered the 53rd Street E train station to have dinner in the Village.
They had the bad luck of being targeted by a group of teenagers looking to rob someone so they could each cover the $15 admission fee to Roseland, the dance club on 50th Street.
The mugging was quick and brutal. “Brian’s father, Sherwin, was knocked to the ground and slashed with a boxcutter,” explains a 2010 article from City Limits. “Brian’s mother said she was grabbed by the hair, hunched over and kicked in the face and chest.”
Brian responded by lunging toward her, and he was then stabbed in the chest by one of the teens. He collapsed at the token booth and was pronounced dead at St. Vincent’s Hospital, his pulmonary artery severed.
The teenagers did go dancing at Roseland that night . . . but were quickly caught and tried. Seven got 25 years to life prison terms.
“Public outcry over Mr. Watkins’s murder put pressure on Mayor David N. Dinkins to hire more police officers and has driven his administration’s fiscal priorities ever since,” a 1992 New York Times article stated.
In 1991, the city put Brian’s name on a public tennis court in East River Park.
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