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April 12, 2022 4:30 pm
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Manhunt Underway After Gunman Shoots 10 in New York Subway

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Law enforcement officers stand outside a subway station, the scene of a shooting, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 12, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A gunman wearing a gas mask set off a smoke bomb and opened fire in a New York subway car during Tuesday’s morning commute, injuring at least 17 people, authorities said, prompting officials to renew calls for steps to combat a surge of violence in the city’s transit system.

Police said the perpetrator, believed to have acted alone, fled the scene. The attack unfolded as a Manhattan-bound subway train on the N line was pulling into a station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, setting off an intense manhunt by local and federal law enforcement.

Ten people were hit directly by gunfire, including five hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Authorities said seven others were injured by shrapnel or otherwise hurt in the chaos as panicked riders fled the smoke-filled subway car, some collapsing to the pavement as they poured onto the platform of the 36th Street station. The fire department said two of those hurt were treated at the scene.

According to CNN, a total of 29 people who suffered various injuries in the incident turned up at area hospitals, though most of them appeared to have been emergency room walk-ins who were treated and discharged.

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The suspect was described by police as a man of heavy build, wearing a green construction-type vest and a hooded sweatshirt. CNN, citing internal law enforcement emails, said the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was searching for a U-Haul van with Arizona license plates in connection with the shooting.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the shooting was not being investigated as an act of terrorism, although authorities would not rule anything out as a motive.

Sewell said the suspect was seen donning a gas mask in the train car as it was about to enter the station, then removed a canister from his bag and opened it.

“The train at that time began to fill with smoke. He then opened fire, striking multiple people on the subway and in the platform,” she added.

Outside the station, in an area known for its thriving Chinatown and views of the Statue of Liberty, authorities shut down a dozen or so blocks and cordoned off the immediate vicinity with crime-scene tape. Schools in the neighborhood were placed under security lockdowns.

John Butsikares, a 15-year-old who passed through the 36th Street station soon after the incident, said the train’s conductor ordered everyone on the station platform to get on board.

“I didn’t know what happened. It was a scary moment. And then at 25th Street (the next station) we were all told to get off. There was people screaming for medical assistance,” said Butsikares, who was going to school.

‘SURGE OF CRIME’

New York, the nation’s most populous city, has seen a sharp rise in violent crime during the pandemic, including a string of seemingly random attacks on its subways. The system is one of the world’s oldest and most extensive.

The subway violence has included a number of attacks in which passengers have been pushed onto the tracks from platforms, including a Manhattan woman whose murder was seen as part of a surge in hate-driven attacks against Asian Americans.

Mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain and Brooklyn borough president who took office in January, has vowed to improve subway safety by increasing police patrols and expanding outreach to the mentally ill.

Speaking to CNN, Adams said Tuesday’s incident “was a senseless act of violence” and pledged to double the number of officers on subway patrol.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul pledged “the full resources of our state to fight this surge of crime, this insanity that is feeding our city.” The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the incident, and that assistance was offered to local officials.

Transit investigators found containers with gasoline and additional, unused smoke canisters on the train carriage, television station WNBC reported, citing city transit sources.

CNN, citing law enforcement sources, said multiple high-capacity ammunition magazines and fireworks were found in the subway station with the gun, which apparently jammed.

Brooklyn resident Yayha Ibrahim said he saw people running from the station, and decided to walk down into it to see what was happening.

“I saw a lady, she was shot right in her leg and she was screaming for help,” he said. Rescue workers “did a good job of coming quick and fast, and the ambulance came in and they took her.”

This story has been updated

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