James Ramseur's life of crime ended yesterday with a bottle of pills in a seedy Bronx hotel room, where he was found dead 27 years to the day after he was shot by infamous "Subway Vigilante" Bernhard Goetz. Ramseur had checked into the Paradise Hotel at 2990 Boston Road on Tuesday and was supposed to check out yesterday. When he failed to return his key, the manager entered the room and found his corpse, fully clothed, with two empty prescription pill bottles next to the bed, their labels scratched off. He was 45, and left no note.

Ramseur became infamous in 1984, when he was riding the 2 train downtown with friends Darrell Cabey, Barry Allen and Troy Canty, all 19. At Chambers Street, they crossed paths with Goetz, and what happened then is a matter of of some dispute. Goetz, who was working as an electronics specialist at the time, has long maintained the teens tried to mug him, while Ramseur and his friends say it wasn't a mugging, merely panhandling. Whatever the cause, the result was five rounds fired from Goetz's unlicensed Smith & Wesson.

Ramseur, who had been holding a screwdriver during the incident, was shot in the chest and lapsed into a coma. The other teens were also seriously wounded, with Cabey sustaining the worst injuries—he's still wheelchair-bound and, according to the Post, functions with "the intellect of an eight-year-old." The Daily News reports that during Goetz's trial, Ramseur "was held in contempt of court at least six times for refusing to testify. He acted belligerently each time he took the stand, denouncing the legal system before being ushered out by armed guards." A mostly white jury ultimately acquitted Goetz of all four counts of attempted murder, but found him guilty of illegal weapons possession, for which he did several months in Rikers.

As for Ramseur, within a year of the shooting, he was arrested for helping to rape a pregnant teen at gunpoint on a Bronx rooftop. After spending 25 years in prison, he was released less than a year-and-a-half ago. Goetz is still alive, but could not be reached for comment on Ramseur's apparent suicide. In an interview with the NY Times in the '80s, he said, the teens he shot "represented the failure of society.... Forget about they're ever making a positive contribution to society. It's only a question of how much a price they're going to cost. The solution is their mothers should have had an abortion."

Goetz's attorney Darnay Hoffman also committed suicide two years ago.