The day – UPDATE: 10 shots at NYC Station; suspect on the loose
NEW YORK (AP) — A gunman wearing a construction vest donned a gas mask, set off a canister of smoke on a rush hour subway train and shot dead at least 10 people Tuesday morning, authorities said. The shooter was on the run after leaving injured commuters bleeding on a Brooklyn platform while others ran screaming.
Five people were in critical condition but are expected to survive. At least 16 people in total were injured in one way or another in the attack that began on a subway train that stopped at the 36th Street station in the Sunset Park neighborhood of l ‘arrondissement.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the attack was not being investigated as terrorism but was “not ruling anything out”. FBI agents and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated nearby businesses, interviewed witnesses and searched for surveillance footage.
Police helicopters hovered overhead for hours as authorities searched for the shooter, who has not been identified. The motive remains unknown. Investigators recovered a firearm from the scene, along with several smoke devices and other items they are analyzing, two law enforcement officials said.
“My subway door opened into calamity. It was smoke and blood and people were screaming,” eyewitness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS, claiming to have seen a gigantic wave of smoke billowing from the N train once the door was opened.
The attack has left a city on guard against rising gun violence and the ever-present threat of terrorism. It has left some New Yorkers nervous about taking the nation’s busiest subway and prompted authorities to beef up policing at transit hubs from Philadelphia to Connecticut.
Passenger video, filmed through a closed door between subway cars, shows a person wearing a hoodie raising one arm and pointing at something – possibly a driver’s cabin door – as five knocks ring out. In another video, smoke and people emerge from a subway car and groans erupt as passengers run for an exit while a few others limp from the train. We fall on the platform.
“Someone call 911!” a person shouts.
Other videos and photos from the scene show people caring for bloodied passengers lying on the platform, some in the middle of what appear to be small pools of blood, and another person on the floor of a subway car .
Juliana Fonda, broadcast engineer at WNYC-FM, told her Gothamist news site that she was boarding the train when passengers in the car behind her started knocking on the door between them.
“There were a lot of loud noises and there was smoke in the other car,” she said. “And people were trying to get in and they couldn’t, they were knocking on the door to get into our car.”
As police search for the shooter, Governor Kathy Hochul warned New Yorkers to be vigilant.
“This individual is still at large. This person is dangerous,” the Democrat told a news conference. “It’s an active shooter situation right now in New York City.”
Firefighters and police were investigating reports that there had been an explosion, but Sewell told a news conference just after midday that there were no known explosive devices. Several smoke devices were found at the scene, said city hall spokesman Fabien Levy.
After people exited the train, quick-thinking transit workers led passengers to another train on the platform for safety reasons, system chief Janno Lieber noted.
High school student John Butsikaris was on the other train when he saw a conductor urging everyone to get on. He thought there might be a trivial problem until the next stop, when he heard screams asking for medical attention and his train was evacuated.
“I’m definitely shaken,” the 15-year-old told The Associated Press. “Even though I didn’t see what happened, I’m still scared, because it was a few meters from me, what happened.”
No transit worker was physically injured, according to their union. In addition to gunshot wounds, the injured runners were treated for smoke inhalation, shrapnel and panic.
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and US Attorney General Merrick Garland were briefed on the incident. New York Mayor Eric Adams, who is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, said in a video statement that the city “will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized by even one individual.”
The incident happened on a subway line that runs through southern Brooklyn in a neighborhood with mostly Hispanic and Asian communities and about a 15-minute train ride from Manhattan. Local schools, including Sunset Park High School across from the train station, have been locked down.
Brooklyn’s Danny Mastrogiorgio had just dropped his son off at school when he saw a crush of passengers, some injured, running down the subway stairs at the nearby 25th Street station in a panic. At least two had visible leg injuries, he said.
“It was crazy,” he told the AP. “No one knew exactly what was going on.”
Allan Lee was running his business, Cafe Nube, when half a dozen police and fire engines suddenly converged on the block that contains the 36th Street station.
“Then they started driving people who were in the block to the adjacent block and then closed the entrance to the subway,” he told the AP. When he noticed bomb operatives and dogs, he was sure it wasn’t an everyday subway problem.
New York City has faced a string of high-profile shootings and incidents in recent months, including on the city’s subways. One of the most shocking took place in January, when a woman was pushed to death in front of a train by a stranger.
Adams, a Democrat just over 100 days into his term, has made cracking down on crime — especially on the subway — one of the goals of his first administration, pledging to send more police into stations and platforms for regular patrols. It was not immediately clear whether officers were already inside the station when the shooting occurred.
“We say: No more. No more mass shootings. No more disrupting lives. No more creating heartbreak for people who are just trying to live their lives like normal New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “It has to stop.”
Associated Press reporters Michael Balsamo in Washington and Jennifer Peltz, Karen Matthews, Michelle L. Price and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.