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Court: Long Island Rail Road shooter tried to incite deadly prison riot

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A New York man who killed six and wounded 19 others on a Long Island Rail Road train two decades ago tried to incite a deadly riot in prison and encouraged other inmates to try to murder guards, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

A state appellate court has ruled Thursday that Colin Ferguson was guilty of violating prison disciplinary rules for allegedly encouraging fellow inmates to riot. The matter was before a court because Ferguson appealed the punishment he received from state prison officials – 18 month confinement to a special housing unit and loss of privileges. A correction officer at the Attica Correctional Facility reported hearing Ferguson, now 56, encouraging fellow inmates to riot and use weapons to kill guards during an incident on Sept. 11, 2011.

In a prison misbehavior report, which was provided by state correction officials, the officer wrote he had overhead Ferguson saying: “I encourage all inmates to riot and kill prison guards … I encourage we should use weapons to do this.” According to a decision rendered Thursday, the court found a videotape, testimony and reports from prison staff provided substantial evidence that Ferguson threatened violence and conspired to riot while serving his more than 300-year sentence at the prison in upstate Wyoming County.

After the officer filed the report, Ferguson was sent for a disciplinary hearing at the prison, officials said. During the hearing, he was found guilty of violating prison rules against rioting, violent conduct and threats, a state correction department spokeswoman said. He was initially given the 18-month confinement to special housing, but the penalty was cut in half when he appealed to a higher level in the correction system in November 2011. The appellate court said Ferguson denied making the remarks and rejected claims the hearing officer at the prison was biased and that the hearing transcript was altered.

Ferguson boarded a Long Island Rail Road train in Queens on Dec. 7, 1993 and fired methodically over several minutes, reloading at least once, before passengers on the commuter train tackled him. He was convicted of a slew of charges, including murder, attempted murder and weapons possession and has been in the state prison system since 1995. Since then, officials say he has received 21 separate misbehavior reports.

Officials said Ferguson, now an inmate at the Upstate Correctional Facility near the Canadian border, has already served out the penalty from the alleged rioting incident, but remains in a specialized housing unit until August because of other disciplinary issues. A correction department spokeswoman has said he is not available for face-to-face interviews because of his disciplinary record. He will be eligible for parole in 2309.

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