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At least 10 shot, 6 others injured in NYC subway; manhunt underway for suspect

A man wearing a gas mask opened fire on a Manhattan-bound N train as it was pulling into the 36th Street Station, prompting a large response to Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.
/ Source: NBC News

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 during rush hour Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The shooting prompted a massive law enforcement response to Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood and a manhunt for the suspect, officials said.

“This individual is still on the loose, this person is dangerous,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a news conference.

Police were looking for a man believed to be about 5-foot-5 and 180 pounds who was wearing a green construction vest during the attack, officials and sources said.

Regional police agencies had been on the lookout for a U-Haul van with Arizona plates that could be connected to the suspect, law enforcement sources said. That vehicle was found later in the afternoon on Kings Highway, about five miles from the crime scene, but the suspect was still being sought.

The chaos, which was caught on video and photos, started at about 8:24 a.m. when shots rang out inside a Manhattan-bound N train as it was pulling into the 36th Street Station, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell told reporters.

“The suspect was in the train car, the shooting began in the train car,” she said. “As the train was pulling into the station, the subject put on a gas mask. He then opened a canister that was in his bag and then the car began to fill with smoke. After that he began shooting.”

None of the wounded have life-threatening injuries, and this isn’t being considered an act of terrorism, authorities said.

However, Mayor Eric Adams said he considered this attack an act intended to bring terror to subway riders.

“Anytime you have a person that uses a smoke device, you have a person who discharges a weapon in the system, that appeared to place a gas mask on his face, that is a person that is intentionally trying terrorize our system,” Adams told MSNBC.

Adams, a former police officer elected to office by voters with an increased fear of crime, said he’d significantly boost NYPD presence on the rails.

“What we’re going to do to help ... (to) ease some of the apprehension, we’re going to double our enforcement,” he said. “We’re keeping our day tour police officers to compliment the 4-to-12 tour police officers.”

Police believe they’ve recovered the suspect’s gun and his bag, which included more unused smoke canisters and fireworks, law enforcement sources told NBC New York.

The gun used jammed during that attack, possibly limiting the injuries from Tuesday’s rampage, the sources said.

Passengers, including some of the wounded, stumbled out of the train — with a few 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 shot, at least six others were hurt in the frantic rush to get away from the N train, the FDNY said.

Investigators believe they have images of the suspect taken from nearby businesses — but a surveillance camera in the station is broken, law enforcement sources told NBC New York.

Scene was ‘like a horror movie’

Commuter Kenneth Foote-Smith said the scene was “like a horror movie.” 

He said he heard shots coming from a neighboring car as it filled with smoke. And adding to the panic, riders fleeing that smoke-filled car couldn’t get into his car for safety because of a jammed door, Foote-Smith said.

The train stopped just short of the station, presumably for a red light, leading to more panic.

“We can’t even see the faces of the people in the train car anymore,” Foote-Smith told NBC New York.

“We luckily pull up to the station very shortly after that. And we all run out once the doors open, and it’s absolute bedlam. There’s people fleeing up the stairs. Luckily an R train pulled up, there’s people running into the R train.”

The FDNY initially reported several undetonated devices were found at the scene but the NYPD later said no “active explosive devices” were immediately located.

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, at a scene such as this, it can be chaotic. You can have all sorts of information coming in and trained investigators then have to sift through that to determine what is reality versus what is what somebody perceived in a split second,” Shea told MSNBC.

No train service, schools on lockdown

The station where Tuesday’s mayhem unfolded is a busy hub where the D, N and R lines run. Service on those trains was disrupted for hours.

The D and N are particularly popular lines, as they make express stops into Midtown Manhattan.

Mobile phones across the five boroughs buzzed hours after the incident, telling New Yorkers to stay away from that Sunset Park neighborhood.

Several schools were put on lockdown and most stores in the neighborhood evacuated due to the subway attack.

P.S. 24, P.S. 371, Sunset Park High School, Little Brooklyn Pre-K Center at 219 25th St. and Little Brooklyn Pre-K Center at 173-177 25th St. were told to “shelter in place” until the dismissal bell, when police were set to “provide extra support for a safe transition home,” David Banks, New York City schools chancellor, said. 

National leaders offer prayers, assistance

President Joe Biden said his staff is in touch with New York City authorities and pledged federal help in bringing the suspect to justice.

“My Jill my wife and I are praying for those who are injured and all those touched by that trauma,” Biden said in Menlo, Iowa.

“And we’re grateful for all the first responders who jumped in action, including civilians, civilians, who didn’t hesitate to help their fellow passengers and tried to shield them.”

Tuesday’s bloodshed comes as New York City companies and employees struggle with return-to-office debates and whether workers should be forced back to headquarters they’ve barely seen over the last two years due to 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 their jobs,” Hochul said.

“That sense of tranquility and normalness was disrupted, brutally disrupted, by an individual so cold-hearted and depraved of heart that (he) had no caring about the individuals that they assaulted as they simply went about their daily lives.”

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