NEW YORK (AP) — A gunman wearing a gas mask and construction vest set off a smoke grenade and fired a barrage of bullets into a rush-hour subway train, killing at least 10 people Tuesday, police said. authorities.
NEW YORK (AP) — A gunman wearing a gas mask and construction vest set off a smoke grenade and fired a barrage of bullets into a rush-hour subway train, killing at least 10 people Tuesday, police said. authorities. The police were trying to find the tenant of a van possibly linked to the violence.
Police Chief of Detectives James Essig said investigators do not know if the man, identified as 62-year-old Frank R. James, had any connection to the subway attack.
Authorities were also reviewing social media posts from a person of the same name that mentioned homelessness, New York City and Mayor Eric Adams, leading officials to tighten the mayor’s security details, Essig and the commissioner said. police officer Keechant Sewell. She said the messages were “concerning”.
The attack turned the subway into a horror scene: a smoke-filled car with at least 33 gunshots, police said. Frightened commuters fled the train and others limped out. At least one runner collapsed on the platform.
“My subway door opened into the calamity. It was smoke and blood and people were screaming,” eyewitness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS. The gunshots erupted in a train that stopped at a station in the Sunset Park neighborhood, about 15 minutes from Manhattan and home to mostly Hispanic and Asian communities.
Five people were in critical condition but are expected to survive. At least 29 people in total have been treated in hospitals for gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation and other ailments, the hospitals said.
Sewell said the attack was not being investigated as terrorism, but “not ruling anything out”. The shooter’s motive was unknown.
Authorities found a 9mm semi-automatic handgun at the scene, along with extended magazines, a hatchet, detonated and undetonated smoke grenades, a black trash can, a rolling cart, gasoline and the key of a U-Haul pickup truck, Essig said.
He said the key led investigators to the van’s tenant, discovering he had addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.
Officials said authorities focused on a person of interest after the credit card used to rent the van was found at the scene of the shooting.
The van was found, unoccupied, elsewhere in Brooklyn.
Investigators believe the weapon jammed, preventing the suspect from continuing to fire, officials said. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted an urgent search to identify the manufacturer, seller and original owner of the weapon.
The attack has a city on its toes about an increase in 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.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last fall that it had installed security cameras at all 472 subway stations across the city, saying they would put criminals on a “fast track to justice”. But at the station where the train arrived, the cameras were apparently not working.
MTA system chief Janno Lieber told television interviewers he did not know why the cameras were malfunctioning. But he said police had “lots of different options” from cameras elsewhere on the subway line to get a glimpse of the shooter.
Driver video, filmed through a closed door between subway cars, shows a person wearing a hoodie raising one arm and pointing at something as five knocks sound. In another video, smoke and people exit a subway car, some limping.
“Someone call 911!” a person shouts.
Other videos and photos from the scene show people caring for bloodied passengers lying on the platform – some amid what appear to be small pools of blood – and another person on the floor of a subway car .
Rider Juliana Fonda, broadcast engineer at WNYC-FM, told her Gothamist news site that passengers in the car behind hers began knocking on the connecting door.
“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 said at a press conference just after noon. “It’s an active shooter situation right now in New York City.”
Firefighters and police had responded to reports of an explosion, but Sewell told the news conference there were no known explosive devices. Several smoke devices were found at the scene, said mayor’s spokesman Fabien Levy.
After people exited the train, quick-thinking transit workers led passengers to another train on the platform for safety reasons, said Lieber, president of the MTA.
High school student John Butsikaris was on the other train when he saw a conductor urging everyone to get on. He thought it might be a trivial issue 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 Menlo, Iowa, President Joe Biden saluted “the first responders who responded, including civilians, civilians, who did not hesitate to help fellow travelers and tried to protect them.”
Adams, who isolates himself after a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday, said in a video statement that the city “will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized by even one individual.”
New York City has faced a string of high-profile shootings and bloodshed in recent months, including in the city’s subways. One of the most shocking took place in January, when a woman was pushed to her death in front of a train by a stranger.
Adams, a Democrat a little more than 100 days after the start of his mandate, made cracking down on crime – especially on the subway – one of the goals of his first administration, pledging to send more police to stations and platforms for regular patrols. It was not immediately clear whether officers were already inside the station when the shooting occurred.
Brooklyn’s Danny Mastrogiorgio had just dropped his son off at school when he saw a crush of panicked passengers, some injured, running up the stairs from the 25th Street station. At least two had visible leg injuries, he said.
“It was crazy,” he told the AP. “No one knew exactly what was going on.”
Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Karen Matthews, Julie Walker, Deepti Hajela, Michelle L. Price and David Porter in New York contributed to this report.
Jim Mustian, Jennifer Peltz, Michael R. Sisak and Michael Balsamo, Associated Press