Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the attack was not being investigated as terrorism but she was “not ruling out anything.”
By Associated Press
A gunman in a construction vest donned a gas mask, set off a smoke canister on a rush-hour subway train and shot at least 16 people Tuesday morning, authorities said. The shooter was at large and described as dangerous after leaving wounded commuters bleeding on a Brooklyn platform while others ran screaming.
Several people were in critical condition but expected to survive in the attack that began on a subway train that pulled into the 36th Street station in the borough’s Sunset Park neighborhood.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the attack was not being investigated as terrorism but she was “not ruling out anything.” The shooter has not been identified and the motive remains unknown.
“My subway door opened into calamity. It was smoke and blood and people screaming,” eyewitness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS, saying he saw a gigantic billow of smoke pouring out of the N train once the door opened.
The attack unnerved a city on guard a bout a rise in gun violence and the ever-present threat of terrorism. It left some New Yorkers jittery about riding the nation’s busiest subway system and prompted officials to increase policing at transportation hubs from Philadelphia to Connecticut.
One rider’s video, shot through a closed door between subway cars, shows a person in a hooded sweatshirt raising an arm and pointing at something — possibly the door to a conductor’s booth — as five bangs sound. In another video, smoke and people pour out of a subway car and wails erupt as passengers run for an exit while a few others limp off the train. One falls to the platform, and a person hollers, “Someone call 911!”
Other video and photos from the scene show people tending to bloodied passengers lying on the platform, some amid what appear to be small puddles of blood, and another person on the floor of a subway car.
Juliana Fonda, a broadcast engineer at WNYC-FM, told its news site Gothamist she was riding the train when passengers from the car behind hers started banging on the door between them.
“There was a lot of loud pops, and there was smoke in the other car,” she said. “And people were trying to get in and they couldn’t, they were pounding on the door to get into our car.”
As police searched for the shooter, Gov. Kathy Hochul warned New Yorkers to be vigilant.
“This individual is still on the loose. This person is dangerous,” the Democrat said at news conference. “This is an active shooter situation right now in the city of New York.”
Fire and police officials were investigating reports that there had been an explosion, but Sewell said at a press conference just after noon that there were no known explosive devices. Multiple smoke devices were found on the scene, said mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy.
After people streamed out of the train, quick-thinking transit workers ushered passengers to another train across the platform for safety, system chief Janno Lieber noted.
No transit workers were physically hurt, according to their union. Besides gunshot wounds, the injured riders were treated for smoke inhalation, shrapnel and panic.
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland were briefed on the incident. New York Mayor Eric Adams, who is isolating following a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday, said in a video statement that the city “will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized, even by a single individual.”
The incident happened on a subway line that runs through south Brooklyn in a neighborhood predominantly home to Hispanic and Asian communities and about a 15-minute train ride to Manhattan. Local schools, including Sunset Park High School across the street from the station, were locked down.
A sea of emergency lights was visible from at least a dozen blocks away, where a police cordon was set up.
New York City has faced a spate of shootings and high-profile incidents in recent months, including on the city’s subways. One of the most shocking was in January when a woman was pushed to her death in front of a train by a stranger.
World Israel News contributed to this report.