After setting off smoke bombs and spraying fellow subway passengers with bullets on Tuesday night, police and federal officials continued their hunt into the early hours of Wednesday morning for a guy who had already injured more than 20 people before fleeing the area.
As the Manhattan-bound “N Line” train approached an underground stop in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighbourhood on Tuesday morning during rush hour, the assault erupted, marking the latest in a string of apparently random acts of violence that have rocked the city’s transportation system in recent years.
In addition to the ten individuals who were shot directly by gunfire, five of whom were sent to the hospital in critical but stable condition, police said 13 other people received respiratory distress or other injuries as they tried to exit the smoke-filled subway vehicle in which they were trapped. As passengers streamed onto the platform of the 36th Street station, several of them who had been hurt slumped.
Every one of the victims was expected to survive their injuries, according to police, who held a press conference that evening in which they also offered a total of $50,000 in incentives for information leading to the arrest of the culprit, whom they thought acted alone.
At first, police concentrated their efforts on tracking down a U-Haul van that had been discovered on a Brooklyn street hours after the incident and on a “person of interest” identified by police as Frank James, who was thought to have hired the car in Philadelphia.
The key to the van was found at the crime scene, and police said James had addresses in both Philadelphia and Wisconsin, according to the report. No one could be reached at any of the phone numbers linked with James when Reuters attempted to contact them.
Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD) Keechant Sewell informed reporters that the incident was not being viewed as an act of terrorism at this time.
Sewell added that although there was no known cause for the assault, detectives discovered a number of social media postings related to a guy called Frank James that cited homelessness as well as the mayor of New York City, among other things.
From eyewitness testimonies, authorities were able to identify the attacker as a guy of large build who was dressed in an orange vest, a grey sweatshirt, a green helmet, and a surgical mask on the train platform.
The assault, according to the commissioner, started in the railway car as the train was about to approach the station. The shooter pulled two canisters from his suitcase and opened them, causing a cloud of smoke to fill the whole train compartment with toxic gas.
A Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, three extended ammo magazines, a hatchet, some consumer-grade pyrotechnics, and a bottle of gasoline, according to police, were eventually retrieved from the scene along with the guy.
According to CNN and local media reports, which cited law enforcement sources, the pistol jammed in the middle of the shooting, perhaps preventing a larger death toll from being recorded.
During the epidemic, there has been a significant increase in violent crime in New York City, including a number of apparently random assaults on the city’s subway system. Among the incidents of transit violence have been a number of instances in which people were forced down the tracks from platforms, including the murder of a Manhattan woman whose death was seen as part of a nationwide spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Mayor Eric Adams, who has committed to increase subway safety by boosting police patrols and expanding mental health outreach programmes, termed Tuesday’s event “a senseless act of violence” and offered to quadruple the number of officers assigned to subway security as a result of his administration.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has committed “the whole resources of our state to combat this increase of crime, this lunacy that is fueling our city,” according to the Associated Press.