Daniel Penny spoke to journalists on Thursday, providing previously unknown details about his life and additional context about the incident which resulted in unhinged vagrant Jordan Neely’s death.
Speaking to Fox News Digital in one of vanishingly few interviews since the fatal incident, Penny professed that he was motivated to act by his memories of reading Holocaust memoirist Elie Wiesel, whose classic book “Night” instilled a young Daniel Penny with a conviction to act in the face of injustice.
“One of the overall messages that he talked about was that good people did nothing,” Penny said. “It’s a lesson that I carry with me to this day.”
Penny also said that his moral compass was shaped by the aftermath of 9/11, which the ex-Marine characterized as “a very patriotic time.”
“A lot of my friends’ parents were first responders, law enforcement and a lot of them responded to the Twin Towers,” Penny says. He adds that this upbringing was one of the factors which encouraged him to join the Marines in order to “help the world.”
Penny’s fame has brought a mix of controversy and admiration, and even inspired legions of female fans professing their attraction to the curly-haired metrosexual subway warrior. The circumstances which brought Penny into the spotlight are now as well-known as they are misunderstood, but the golden warrior provided a great deal of heretofore-unknown information about his own biography and actions on that fateful day.
In his account, Penny grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Long Island with three sisters. He lived with his parents until their divorce when he was just 11 years old, after which point he was raised by his grandparents. It was during this time that he developed a passion for surfing, which persists to this day.
Penny served as an infantry squad leader and water survival instructor from 2017 to 2021, a period which saw him tour Spain, Greece, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Japan.
“It was an awesome experience seeing parts of the world the majority of people don’t get to see, and it really opens your eyes to new perspectives,” Penny told Fox.
Following his military service, Penny undertook a road trip through Mexico and Central America, after which he moved in with his sister in New York City where he worked part-time as a swimming instructor and barback, bussing dishes. He had recently enrolled in a local college with the intention of studying architecture when his life was turned upside down by the infamous incident.
On the afternoon of May 1, Penny boarded a Brooklyn-bound F train to go to the gym and swim laps. The unhinged, homeless criminal Jordan Neely boarded the same cabin as Penny at 2nd Avenue and almost immediately began threatening other passengers.
“Between stops, you’re trapped on the train, and there’s nowhere to go. You can try to move away, but you can only do so much on a packed car,” Penny said. “I was scared. I looked around, and I saw older women and children, and they were terrified.”
While Penny would not elaborate on what happened next in this interview, the story is well-known and corroborated by other witnesses: The adventure-loving swimming instructor approached the erratic Neely from behind and dragged him to the floor, restraining Neely until he went limp. Penny was subsequently taken in for questioning by the police, but he was released without charge on that day, only being arraigned for manslaughter over a week after the incident.
Penny expressed sympathy for Neely’s loved ones and remorse about the situation, even adding that he has not boarded a subway ever since on account of the trauma of the incident. However, he does not regret what he did on that day, claiming that Neely’s erratic behavior made him a danger to the innocent people around.
“If [Neely] had carried out his threats, he would have killed somebody,” Penny said. He remains confident in his decision to act, despite the legal charges which loom over him.
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