NYPD still on the hunt for subway shooter

New York police continue on Wednesday to track a man who, wearing a gas mask, wreaked havoc on the subway during morning rush hour on Tuesday by setting off two smoke devices before opening fire, injuring 23, including ten by gunshot.

However, there was no indication at this stage to qualify this attack as a terrorist act, a police source pointed out.

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“We were really lucky that it wasn’t much more serious,” said New York Police Chief Keechant Sewell, summarizing the authorities’ relief after this attack where the suspect – still on the run – fired 33 bullets in the subway.

At 8:24 a.m. Tuesday, when the metro trains of the megalopolis are crowded, the individual, who was wearing a gas mask, “opened two canisters which let smoke escape into the train. He then shot at a number of passengers when the train entered the 36th Street station in southern Brooklyn, said Keechant Sewell.

Amateur photos and videos showed pools of blood and people lying on the floor of a train, as well as on the station platform.

Among the victims, none of whom were in mortal danger according to the police, ten were shot and thirteen others in the scramble to get out of the metro or because of smoke inhalation.

The suspect was described by police as “a black male” about 1.65m tall, “heavy build”, and wearing a “green and orange construction vest” and a gray hooded sweatshirt.

At the scene, the investigators found a handgun and three magazines, as well as a vehicle key which allowed them to go back to a van from the American rental company U-Haul, recently rented and abandoned in Brooklyn.

The police gave the description and distributed photos of the individual who rented the van, without saying if it was the suspect. According to several media, this man, Frank James, 62, has published various videos on YouTube where he delivers long political tirades, sometimes virulent, and criticizes the mayor of New York Eric Adams.

“There have been posts that might be related to the person we are interested in, where he mentions homelessness, where he mentions New York, where he mentions Mayor Adams,” the NYPD chief confirmed.

In the metro, “I saw a cloud of smoke, I saw people in chaos, lying on the ground, three people on the ground. Immediately, I said to myself that it was necessary to leave”, told AFP a resident of Brooklyn working on the spot, Threstan Ralph, 34 years old.

According to one of the passengers, Yav Montano, speaking on CNN, “a smoke grenade…a bomb went off, I would say two minutes before we got to the station.”

“It looked like it was planned (…). We were stuck in the train (…) There was a lot of blood on the ground, ”added this man.

Throughout the day, an important security device – firefighters, ambulances, police – was deployed. Several schools have canceled all outings of their students.

Visiting Iowa, President Joe Biden promised, “We won’t let go until we find the perpetrator.”

On Monday, Joe Biden announced measures against some of the firearms that are proliferating in the United States, and which killed 45,000 people in the United States in 2021, suicides included, according to the organization Gun Violence Archive.

An “epidemic” according to the White House.

Tuesday’s attack came as New York has faced a spike in crime since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of homicides rising from 319 in 2019 to 488 in 2021, although the annual toll remains well below the more than 2,000 per year recorded in the early 1990s.

Elected in November on security promises, Democratic mayor and former police officer Eric Adams launched a plan to fight against the proliferation of firearms in January, after the death of two police officers shot dead during an intervention.

But other gun dramas often make headlines.

“We’re tired of reading the headlines about crime, whether it’s shootings or the loss of a teenage girl or 13-year-old. This must stop,” said New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, referring to several recent victims – including children – of shootings or stray bullets.


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