David Carlson was fishing with a pal when a bearded man in shorts popped out of the woods and introduced himself. “Daniel” said he was the caretaker of a vacant cabin next to Carlson’s home in upstate Sparrowbush, N.Y. Carlson, a carpenter, befriended the stranger, giving him odd jobs in exchange for fresh eggs and his wife’s homemade bread.
While drinking beer beside a bonfire one night, “Daniel” suddenly confided that his real first name was Norris — and that he was wanted for having sex with a 14-year-old girl in Ramapo, N.Y. He grumbled that the charges were unfair because the girl had consented.
“That little bitch,” Carlson played along, but he was alarmed.
The confession set off a chain of events that terrified the rural mountainside community and led to not one, but three bungled attempts by law enforcement to arrest the fugitive. It ended with Carlson blasting Norris Acosta Sanchez, a 35-year-old CUNY graduate, in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun.
The District Attorney called it vigilante justice, saying Carlson “chose to take the law into his own hands,” killing an unarmed man without provocation. Carlson says he was fighting for his life. In a dangerous bind, he tried to help catch a desperate criminal after cops let him escape.
“He was threatening me,” Carlson told a 911 operator after the killing. “The guy you were chasing yesterday.”