People with Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty socially connecting with others, and their behavior and thought patterns can be rigid and repetitive. But have you heard about Darius McCollum, the New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome who has been arrested over 30 times?
Darius McCollum, an Asperger syndrome-diagnosed New Yorker, has been arrested over 30 times for impersonating transit employees, stealing trains and buses, and driving their routes, complete with safety announcements and passenger stops.
Darius McCollum and His Love for Trains
Darius McCollum, 58, is an African American diagnosed with autism. He was obsessed with trains as a child and would hide in the New York City subway system. Beginning when he was nine years old, transit employees gave him keys and taught him how to operate trains.
Darius eventually began taking over employee shifts and riding subway trains on predetermined routes. Darius was arrested at 15 for operating a subway for an employee who had Darius cover their shift. Darius never told anyone about his train knowledge because he didn’t want to betray his friends who were having a child with autism take over their shifts.
Darius has been in and out of jail for transportation-related charges for the past forty years. He has never been arrested for a violent crime. He has never caused anyone harm. He has been barred from entering any MTA rail yards, bus depots, or official offices. Darius volunteered at the New York City Transit Museum, which he enjoyed doing as part of his many job searches. However, he was fired when his boss discovered his true identity.
With that arrest on his record, he could not do what he loved most: work for the NYC transit system. However, he continued to operate trains and buses for friends in the transit industry who took advantage of his disability. He was arrested repeatedly, spending years in abusive prisons that were ill-equipped to handle him. He never hurt anyone or damaged anyone’s property; he usually drove the vehicles on scheduled trips in place of employees and always returned them.
Darius was found to be dangerously mentally ill by a judge. He is now being held indefinitely at a state asylum for the criminally insane, alongside the most violent and unstable inmates. Darius is not dangerous, has never been, and will never be, and is not mentally ill; he has a disability. (Source: The Guardian)
Darius a Helping Hand on 9/11
Darius volunteered his knowledge and skills after 9/11 to make the New York City subway system safe. Darius led a team of federal agents, New York City Intelligence Detectives, and New York State Police through the subway system, identifying areas where intruders could enter undetected. Darius was locked up at the time.
Teams of federal agents escorted him in shackles from his Riker’s Island prison cell to tour the subway system, assisting law enforcement. Darius received no compensation for his contributions. Instead, the Department of Corrections was informed that Darius was easily manipulated and that a terrorist could gain valuable knowledge from him. He was placed in solitary confinement. (Source: The Guardian)
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