A gunman wearing a gas mask and construction vest detonated a smoke canister on a rush hour subway train in Brooklyn, shooting at least 10 people Tuesday, authorities said. Police were scouring the city looking for the shooter and a rental truck.
A scene of horror unfolded as frightened passengers ran from the train while others limped out. At least one collapsed on the platform.
“My subway door opened to calamity. There was smoke, blood and people screaming,” witness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS. Smoke billowed from the train car when the door opened, he added.
Five people were in critical condition but expected to survive. At least 29 in all were treated at the hospital for gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation and other conditions.
The shots erupted on a subway train that stopped at a station in the Sunset Park neighborhood, about a 15-minute train ride from Manhattan and predominantly Hispanic and Asian communities.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the attack was not being investigated as terrorism, but added that “it didn’t rule anything out.”
Authorities had a photo of a suspect and were working to confirm his identity, two law enforcement officials said. The reason remains unknown. City officials were told to look for a U-Haul truck with a certain Arizona license plate number and pull it over and detain all occupants immediately. U-Haul said he made sure authorities had all the information they needed.
Investigators recovered a handgun at the scene, along with several smoke devices and other items that they are analyzing, officials said. They said the suspect is believed to have had at least two magazines spread out.
Authorities believe the gun jammed, preventing the suspect from firing further. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has completed an urgent search to identify the manufacturer, seller and initial owner of the weapon.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
‘It has to end,’ says governor
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who encouraged witnesses to come forward, described the suspect as “insensitive” and “depraved.”
“No more mass shootings. No more disruption to life. No more heartbreak for people just trying to live their lives…it has to end,” he said.
Witnesses describe chaos, smoke
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last fall that it had placed security cameras at all 472 subway stations in the city, saying they would put criminals on a “fast track to justice.” But the cameras apparently failed at the station where the train arrived, New York Mayor Eric Adams told WCBS-AM.
Video from a train passenger shows smoke and people exiting a subway car. Wailing erupts as passengers run for an exit while a few others limp off the train. One falls onto the platform and a person yells, “Somebody call 911!” In other videos and photos from the scene, people tend to bloodied passengers lying on the platform, some in what appear to be small pools of blood, and another person is on the floor of a subway car.
Danny Mastrogiorgio, from Brooklyn, had just dropped his son off at school when he saw a crowd of passengers, including several injured, running up the subway stairs at the 25th Street station in a panic. At least two had visible leg injuries, he said.
“It was crazy,” he told The Associated Press. “Nobody knew exactly what was going on.”
Police officers were searching Fourth Avenue, the cross street from the station, asking witnesses if they were on the train. A sea of emergency lights was visible from at least a dozen blocks away, where a police cordon was set up.
Some of those not shot but injured may have suffered smoke inhalation, authorities said, as the suspect was believed to have thrown a gas canister before opening fire in the incident, which occurred around 8:25 a.m.
Firefighters and police were investigating early reports that there had been an explosion, but Sewell said no explosive devices were known.
Recent attacks on the subway system
After the shooting, local schools, including Sunset Park High School across the street, were put on lockdown.
Some shuttle buses were put into service as a result of subway outages.
Janno Lieber, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, praised New Yorkers in the immediate vicinity of the attack for “stepping up” to help injured and shaken passengers.
No MTA workers were physically injured, according to a statement from the Transportation Workers Union Local 100.
We need the public’s help to stop the person responsible for shooting multiple people today on the subway in #Brooklyn a>. The suspect is a black male wearing a green construction vest & a gray hooded sweatshirt. Call to @NYPDTips to the #800577TIPS with any information. pic.twitter.com/d2wTfNbMDD
The New York City subway system has suffered a series of recent attacks. An Asian-American woman was pushed to her death in front of a train at the Times Square subway station in January, while a Staten Island man died last week after a stabbing at the Wall Street station.
“I am committing all the resources of our state to combat this increase in crime, this madness that is taking over our city because we want to get back to normal,” Hochul said.
“This is what the mayor and I are going to continue to work for.”
Following a panic-stricken 2017 incident at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, a permanent US resident from Bangladesh was sentenced last year on federal charges to life in prison. The man detonated an improvised explosive device, causing non-life-threatening injuries to several people nearby.