Family of MTA worker killed in arson calls arrest ‘Christmas gift’

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The family of an MTA worker killed in an arson fire at a Harlem subway station said they’ve gotten an early Christmas present — the arrest of the man charged in his death.

“We were elated,” Vicky Goble, the mother of slain transit worker Garrett Goble, told The Post. “We’re hoping that everything goes right so that we can have a conviction and put this person away. It’s an early Christmas gift.”

Goble, 36, was killed on March 27 trying to help straphangers off of a No. 2 train after it was engulfed in smoke from a shopping cart fire.

On Friday, police charged Nathaniel Avinger, 50, with arson and murder in his death.

“It gave us hope,” Goble’s widow, Delilah, said during a memorial service for her husband Monday at the Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn College station — a short distance from Garrett Goble’s childhood home in Flatlands.

Suspected arsonist Nathaniel Avinger
Suspected arsonist Nathaniel Avinger
Robert Miller

“Even though it’s a first step, we’ve been waiting for this and it came just in time, because my son’s birthday is tomorrow and he wants justice for his dad, just like we do,” she said.

They couple had two children, Hunter, 1, and 11-year-old Noah.

“He was the life of the party,” she said of her husband. “He was funny, the life of the party. He was a great father, very active, keeping the boys busy. We just miss him.”

The MTA announced they will memorialize Goble with a plaque at the Brooklyn station, and will launch a scholarship in his name — while showering his two boys with presents.

“I speak for the entire transit family when I say March 27 was one of the worst and darkest days in our history,” Interim Transit President Sarah Feinberg said Monday.

“We’re going to put something outside the crew room so when conductors and operators are walking in and out and they’re reminded of him,” she said. “You’re not going to walk into the Flatbush station without seeing and hearing Garrett Goble.”

Police said Avinger set a shopping cart on fire inside the train and fled the Harlem station. He was initially questioned in the fatal fire days after the incident but was released for lack of evidence, sources said.

But on Wednesday he was picked up for allegedly groping a female MTA employee and charged with third-degree sexual abuse and forcible groping in that case.

After being questioned by detectives in that case police also charged him with arson and murder in the March 27 incident.

He was pelted with insults by MTA workers following his arrest.

Avinger is due back in court in Manhattan on Wednesday.

He has a lengthy criminal record that includes a dozen arrests on assault and robbery charges dating to 1987, according to police.

State corrections records show that he was sentenced to state prison on a third-degree robbery conviction in 2013 and was released in July 2015.



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