At least 10 people were shot and six others injured after a man wearing a gas mask opened fire and threw a smoke canister aboard a moving New York City subway train in the rush hour Tuesday morning, authorities said.
The shooting caused a massive law enforcement response in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood and a manhunt for the suspect, officials said.
“This individual is still free, this person is dangerous,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a press conference.
Police were looking for a man believed to be 5-foot-5 and 180-pound who was carrying a green bouvest at the time of the attack, officials and sources said.
The chaos, which was captured on video and photos, began at about 8:24 a.m. when shots rang out in a Manhattan-bound N train as it was traveling in 36th Street Station, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said to reporters.
“The suspect was sitting in the train car, the shooting started in the train car,” she said. “When the train drove into the station, the person put on a gas mask. He then opened a bus that was sitting in his bag and then started filling the car with smoke. Then he started shooting.”
None of the injured have life-threatening injuries, and this is not considered an act of terrorism, authorities said.
Police believe they have recovered the suspect’s gun and his bag, which no longer contained unused smoke cans and fireworks, law enforcement sources told NBC New York.
The gun used in the attack may have limited Tuesday’s rampage injuries, sources said.
Passengers, including some of the injured, stumbled off the train – with some of them boarding an R train across the platform to get away, witnesses and law enforcement sources told NBC New York.
In addition to the 10 shots, at least six others were injured in the intense rush to get away from the N train, the FDNY said.
Scene was ‘like a horror movie’
Commuter Kenneth Foote-Smith said the scene was “like a horror movie”.
He said he heard gunshots from a neighboring car when it was full of smoke. And added to the panic, riders fleeing the smoky car could not get into his car for safety because of a blocked door, Foote-Smith said.
The train stopped just short of the station, possibly for a red light, leading to more panic.
“We can not even see the faces of the people in the train car anymore,” Foote-Smith told NBC New York.
“Luckily we pull up at the station very soon after that. And we all walk out when the doors open, and it’s absolutely bedridden. People are fleeing up the stairs. Luckily an R-train is approaching, there are people running in the R train. “
The FDNY initially reported that several non-detonated devices were found at the scene, but the NYPD later said no “active explosive devices” were located immediately.
Several commuters posted images of bloodshed and smoke in the Brooklyn subway station immediately after the attack.
Former NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea urged the public not to jump to conclusions based on initial reports.
“It’s important to know, in such a scene it can be chaotic. You can enter all sorts of information and train researchers to then search it to determine what the reality is against what one is observing in a split second,” Shea said. MSNBC.
No train service, schools locked
The station where Tuesday’s chaos took place is a busy junction where the D, N and R lines run. The service on those trains was disrupted for hours.
The D and N are particularly popular lines because they make expression stops in Midtown Manhattan.
Mobile phones across the five boroughs buzzed hours after the incident, telling New Yorkers to stay away from that Sunset Park neighborhood.
Two schools were shut down and most stores nearby were evacuated, NBC New York reported.
National leaders offer prayers, assistance
President Joe Biden has been informed about the shooting of the subway. Senior White House staffers are in contact with New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Sewell to provide all assistance as needed.
Tuesday’s bloodshed comes as New York City companies and employees wrestle with debates over returning to office and whether workers should be forced to return to headquarters that they have barely seen in the past two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This morning ordinary New Yorkers woke up in anticipation of a relatively normal day. They left their homes, they went to school, they went to work,” Hochul said.
“That sense of calm and normalcy was disturbed, brutally disturbed, by an individual so cold-hearted and devastated at heart that (he) had no worries about the individuals they attacked while simply going through their daily lives.”
Alec Hernandez en Doha Madani contributed,