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At least 10 people shot, shooter at large after attack in Brooklyn subway train, officials say (video & Pics)

NEW YORK — Police are searching for a gunman after at least 10 people were shot on a Brooklyn subway train, causing panic early Tuesday.

The shooting occurred before 8:30 a.m. on a Manhattan-bound N train in Brookyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a news conference.

The train was waiting to enter the 36th Street station when a man put on a gas mask and opened a canister before the train began filling up with smoke and the man began firing, Sewell said. The shooter, whom Sewell described as a Black male with a heavy build, was wearing a green construction vest and a gray sweatshirt, she said.

New York City Fire Department First Deputy Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said a total of 16 people were injured, including 10 people shot. Five people were in stable but critical condition. Sewell also said none of the injuries were life threatening. 

Firefighters responded to a call for smoke at the subway station at 36th Street and 4th Avenue. Crews found the shooting victims and several “undetonated devices,” according to the New York City Fire Department statement.

Sewell said Tuesday afternoon there were no known explosive devices on the train. The incident was not being investigated as an act of terrorism “at this time,” but she asked for the public’s assistance with any photos, videos or information about the incident and alleged shooter.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said New Yorkers’ “sense of tranquility and normalness was disrupted brutally by an individual so cold hearted and depraved of heart that they had no caring about the individuals that they assaulted.”

In addition to the gunshot victims, other people suffered from smoke inhalation, shrapnel wounds and other injuries related to the panic that ensued after the shooting, Kavanagh said.

Eight of the injured were taken to NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn, and all were in stable condition, spokeswoman Lacy Scarmana said Tuesday morning. New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Hospital said three patients injured in the attack were being treated, but no information on their medical conditions was immediately available.

Avellana De La Cruz, 25, was texting her boss that she would be late to work while waiting for the subway when dozens of people, some with bloodstains, started running out of the station. De La Cruz said people were crying and shouting while others stood, calling the police or recording with their phones.

Confused, De La Cruz remained at the station until an announcement told riders to evacuate. As she was exiting the station, De La Cruz said a woman, covered in blood with a wound across her face, asked for help finding police. Together, they left the subway and found an ambulance. 

“One minute I was on my phone and the next everyone was running and crying,” De La Cruz said. 

“It was chaos in there and hard to focus on whether the attack was really over,” she added.

Tim O’Donnell, 31, who regularly commutes into Manhattan on the N train, said he had headphones in when he heard a conductor tell riders to board a local R train across the platform. Then he heard the loudspeaker announcement to evacuate.

On the way out, O’Donnell said he saw a man with his pant leg rolled up and what appeared to be a bloody gash on his leg. O’Donnell thought the man may have fallen on the steps with drizzling rain, but he started receiving texts about the shooting as he headed home. 

Photos on social media appeared to show multiple people bleeding on a smoky subway platform shortly after reports of the shooting. The subway station serves the D, N and R lines, which all run into Manhattan. Services on the lines in Brooklyn and some Manhattan stations were suspended, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Rogelio Miranda, a cashier at a nearby supermarket, said he was working an early shift when a woman came inside screaming “there’s blood all over the station” and ran into the restroom. The store stayed open and people came inside to wait for cabs and Ubers, Miranda said.

“Violence on the subway isn’t new to our area but seeing so many people so terrified and so many people saying they saw people covered in blood, it’s crazy,” Miranda added.

John Chiu, who works in sales around the corner from the subway station, said about 10 minutes after he arrived at his office he heard police sirens blaring. 

“I thought it was just another accident because … honestly, it’s an everyday occurrence,” said Chiu, who normally drives to work from his Flatbush home. 

Within a few minutes, however, Chiu knew it was something more. He immediately checked to see if everyone who normally takes the subway had already arrived at work. They all had. “It was a relief,” he added.

President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation and the White House staff has been in touch with Adams and Sewell, press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.

Mayor Eric Adams, who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and cleared his schedule of in-person public events, was receiving continuous briefings, spokesman Fabien Levy tweeted.

“We will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized, even by a single individual,” Adams said in a brief video.

The shooting comes as crime in the city’s sprawling subway system has ticked up in recent months. Transit crime had increased 68% so far in 2022 compared to 2021, NYPD statistics show.

The subways have been a particular focus of Adams’, and the mayor earlier this year released a safety plan in efforts to lower crime.

The city’s subway system has been the target of several previous mass attacks. In December 2017, a homemade bomb detonated in a subway pedestrian tunnel that links two train lines a bus terminal in midtown Manhattan. No one was killed, but three people suffered minor injuries. Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi immigrant, was convicted on terrorism charges for carrying out the attack on behalf of the Islamic State.

Dozens of riders were injured in December 1994 when two homemade gasoline bombs exploded in a crowded downtown No. 4 train that was stopped in the Fulton Street station beneath the Manhattan financial district. Edward Leary, a New Jersey computer analyst enraged by the loss of his job, was found guilty in 1996.

Najibullah Zazi, a legal permanent resident of the U.S. from Afghanistan, acquired bomb-making components and drove them to New York for a series of intended strikes in September 2009.

When he learned that authorities were investigating the plot, he discarded the explosives and drove back to Denver, where he was arrested. At the time, then-Attorney General Eric Holder described the plot as “one of the most serious terrorist threats to our nation since Sept. 11, 2001.”It could have been devastating,” Holder said then.

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