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Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old Marine vet, is the man seen choking Jordan Neely in subway death

Katherine Long,Mattathias Schwartz,Jack Newsham   

Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old Marine vet, is the man seen choking Jordan Neely in subway death
  • Penny is the man who choked Neely on NYC's F train, a former senior law-enforcement official said.
  • The surfing enthusiast and former Marine squad leader was first identified on Twitter.

The former Marine who's seen choking a homeless Michael Jackson impersonator in a subway killing that shocked New York City and the nation this week is Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old surfing enthusiast from West Islip, Long Island, Insider has confirmed.

Penny can be seen on video with his arm around the head and neck of Jordan Neely, who was said to be behaving erratically on the F train Monday about 2:15 p.m.

Penny's name circulated Thursday on Twitter. The Daily Mail briefly included his last name in a photo caption on its website Thursday, and the website published an article Friday morning naming Penny.

A former senior law-enforcement official confirmed to Insider that Penny was the man seen on video placing Neely in a chokehold before his death.

Penny, his family members, and his lawyers didn't respond to phone calls or messages sent Thursday night and Friday morning. He has not been charged with a crime.

The encounter was partly captured on video by the independent journalist Juan Alberto Vázquez. The video shows Penny and two other men holding Neely on the floor of the subway car until Neely stops moving. New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner ruled Neely's death a homicide by compression to the neck on Wednesday.

Police questioned but did not arrest Penny and declined to release his name. Several media accounts described him only as a Marine or former Marine. Stories published by New York City's two tabloids were far less flattering to Neely, whose lengthy arrest record they highlighted.

For years, Neely was a familiar face to Manhattan commuters who would see him impersonating Michael Jackson in subway stations. The New York Post reported he experienced severe mental-health challenges after the murder of his mother in 2007. Neely's aunt told the outlet that he sought help at Bellevue Hospital but couldn't get the treatment he needed. (The hospital's press office did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.)

On Monday, he began behaving erratically on an F train in Manhattan, media reports said. Penny put Neely into a chokehold for several minutes. Neely appeared to stop moving as Penny applied a chokehold on the floor of the subway train as it idled at the Broadway-Lafayette station. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Penny joined the Marines in 2017 after graduating from West Islip High School. Photos and videos of him show him playing on his high-school lacrosse team. The Marine Corps confirmed to Insider that he joined the Marines as an infantryman and rose to the rank of sergeant. Penny's last assignment was at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps. That description matches Penny's LinkedIn profile.

On Harri, a recruitment tool for the restaurant industry, Penny described himself as an "adventurous, charismatic, authentic" New Yorker interested in bartending jobs. His profile photo shows him carrying a surfboard. On the day of the altercation on the subway, Penny was wearing a sweatshirt from a Long Island surf shop and a hat with the logo of an Australian surf brand.

"While serving as squad leader on two deployment, I began to realize what I was passionate about. I loved helping, communicating, and connecting to different people from all over the world," Penny's Harri profile said.

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