THE SURVIVOR

Carl Denaro, one of David Berkowitz’s victims, recalls the night he was shot.

Aired on August 9, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> WE TURN NOW TO THE HARROWING STORY OF A SURVIVOR, A MAN WHO AUTHORITIES SAY BACK IN 1976 TOOK A .44-CALIBER BULLET TO THE HEAD FROM THE SON OF SAM AND LIVED TO TELL WHAT HAPPENED.

DOCTORS WERE ABLE TO SAVE CARL DENARO BY INSULTING A METAL PLATE IN HIS SKULL.

THE STORY OF SURVIVAL IS PART OF THE SPECIAL 'SON OF SAM: THE HUNT FOR A KILLER.'

HERE'S A LOOK.

EVERYTHING CHANGED THAT NIGHT.

SO MUCH CHANGED THAT I WASN'T EVEN AWARE OF HALF THE CHANGES.

THERE WERE SO MANY THINGS THAT I WASN'T ABLE TO DO.

NOT DRIVE A CAR EVER AGAIN.

NOT PLAY SPORTS EVER AGAIN.

I COULD NEVER FORGIVE HIM FOR WHAT HE'S DONE.

THIS WAS, YOU KNOW, KIND OF A HORRENDOUS TIME FOR ALL OF US.

AND IT LEAVES AN IMPACT.

SOMETHING YOU DON'T FORGET.

DO I WANT TO FORGET IT?

I'M NOT SURE.

DO I WANT TO PUT IT BEHIND ME?

I'M NOT SURE.

BUT IT IS WHAT IT IS.

FOR MORE ON HIS STORY, MY CO-HOST, RAFAEL PI ROMAN, RECENTLY SPOKE WITH CARL DENARO AND STARTED OFF THE CONVERSATION BY ASKING WHAT HE REMEMBERS FROM THE NIGHT HE WAS SHOT.

THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW, IT SEEMED LIKE THE CAR EXPLODED.

GLASS SHARDS WERE ALL ON MY ARMS, MY HANDS.

YOU KNOW, BLOOD.

AT THE TIME, I DIDN'T KNEW I HAD A HEAD WOUND, BUT I KNEW WE WERE IN TROUBLE.

SO THE ATTACK ON YOU WAS THE SECOND ATTACK --

THE SECOND ATTACK --

-- BY THE SON OF SAM.

CLEARLY THE POLICE HAD NOT CONNECTED THE DOTS.

THERE WAS NO HINT THAT THERE WAS A SERIAL KILLER.

WHAT DID YOU THINK HAPPENED TO YOU, AND WHAT DID THE COPS THINK HAPPENED TO YOU?

I HAD NO IDEA.

I HAD NO ENEMIES, CERTAINLY NOT ENEMIES THAT WOULD SHOOT ME.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD WAS UPPER MIDDLE CLASS.

WE DIDN'T HAVE SHOOTINGS EVEN THOUGH NEW YORK AT THE TIME WAS A SCARY PLACE.

THAT WASN'T TRUE OF MY NEIGHBORHOOD.

THE FACT THAT I HAD LONG HAIR AND I SMOKED POT, HUNG OUT IN A B BAR, THE DETECTIVES ASSIGNED TO MY CASE THOUGHT IT WAS A DRUG DEAL GONE WRONG.

WHEN DID YOU FIND OUT THAT YOUR SHOOTING WAS PART OF THE SON OF SAM --

IT TOOK SIX MONTHS.

I LIVED FOR SIX MONTH OF BASICALLY DEFENDING MYSELF AGAINST MY FAMILY AND THE COPS THAT IT WASN'T A DRUG DEAL.

I BELIEVE IT WAS MARCH 10th -- THEI THERE WERE ARTICLES IN THE PAPER PRIOR TO MARCH 1 0th OF THERE MIGHT BE CONNECTION TO SOME SHOOTINGS.

FINALLY ON MARCH 10th, THEY HAD A PRESS CONFERENCE, MAYOR'S OFFICE AND NYPD, HAD A PRESS CONFERENCE SAYING --

THAT'S WHEN YOU KNEW?

YEAH.

THANKED ALL THE SUPPOSEDLY RAP DOMESTIC SHOOTINGS.

-- RANDOM SHOOTINGS.

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU WERE DEAD INSTEAD OF ROSEMARY?

THE BEST THEY'RE WE HAVE RIGHT NOW 40 YEARS LATER IS I WAS MISTAKEN FOR A WOMAN.

I MEAN, I HAD LONG HAIR.

ROSEMARY HAD RELATIVELY SHORT HAIR FOR A WOMAN.

DRIVING --

SHE WAS DRIVING THE CAR.

YOU KNOW, THAT KIND OF MAKES IT SENSE.

ON AUGUST 10th, 1977, DAVID BERKOWITZ IS ARRESTED.

HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU KNEW THAT HE WAS --

MY SISTER CALLED ME.

IT WAS PROBABLY ABOUT 2:00 IN THE MORNING WHEN I FOUND OUT.

IT WAS, YOU KNOW -- EVERY EMOTION YOU COULD THINK OF.

RELIEF, ELATION, KIND OF LIKE THE PREVIOUS 13 MONTHS, KIND OF LIKE, YOU KNOW, PLAYED IN MY HEAD REAL QUICK, YOU KNOW.

AND I KNOW, I BASICALLY SAT ON MY BED FOR TWO HOURS KIND OF LIKE COLLECTING MY THOUGHTS.

ALL RIGHT.

CARL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR COMING HERE AND SHARING YOUR STORY.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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