NEW YORK (AP): At least five people were shot and injured Tuesday at a New York City subway station during a morning rush hour attack that left wounded commuters bleeding on a train platform and police searching for the shooter.
Fire personnel responding to reports of smoke at the 36th Street station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood at around 8:30 a.m. found at least 13 people were hurt, but — aside from the five shot — there were no details on what those injuries entailed.
According to multiple law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation, preliminary information indicated that the suspect who fled was a man wearing a construction vest and a gas mask.
Photos and video from the scene showed people tending to bloodied passengers lying on the floor of the station and the air filled with smoke.
Fire and police officials were investigating reports that there had been an explosion, but the police department tweeted that there were “no active explosive devices at this time.” Multiple smoke devices were found on the scene, said mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy, who confirmed the initial shooting injury count.
At least 11 people were being treated at two local hospitals.
“My subway door opened into calamity. It was smoke and blood and people screaming,” eyewitness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS, saying he saw a gigantic billow of smoke pouring out of the N train once the door opened.
A bystander video shows people lying on the subway platform amid what appeared to be small puddles of blood, as a loudspeaker announcement told everyone on the smoke-hazy platform to get on a train.
Inside a subway car, a person lay on the floor, encircled by others. Outside the station, a police officer yelled, “Let’s go! Get out of the way!”
Trains servicing that station were delayed during the morning rush hour.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ office did not immediately have more details. Adams was at the mayor’s residence Tuesday morning and was being briefed.
The incident happened on a subway line that runs through south Brooklyn in a neighborhood about a 15-minute train ride to Manhattan.
Local schools, including Sunset Park High School across the street, were locked down.
Danny Mastrogiorgio of Brooklyn had just dropped his son off at school when he saw a crush of passengers, included multiple wounded, running up the subway stairway at the 25th Street station in panic. At least two had visible leg injuries, he said.
“It was insane,” he told The Associated Press. “No one knew exactly what was going on.”
Allan Lee was running his business, Cafe Nube, when a half-dozen police cars and fire vehicles suddenly converged on the block.
“Then they started ushering people that were on the block to the adjacent block and then closed off the subway entrance” near the cafe’s door, he told the AP.
When he noticed bomb squad officers and dogs, he was certain it was no everyday subway problem.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement she had been briefed on the situation and said her office would work with the transit authority and police department as the investigation continued.
President Joe Biden had also been briefed on the latest developments and White House senior staff were in touch with Adams and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
Police officers were canvassing 4th Avenue, the station’s cross-street, asking witnesses whether 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.
The shootings come as New York City has faced a spate a shootings and high-profile incidents in recent months, including on the city’s subways.
One of the most shocking was in January when a woman was pushed to her death in front of a train by a stranger.
Adams, a Democrat a little over 100 days into his term, has made cracking down on crime — especially on the subways — a focus of his early administration, pledging to send more police officers into stations and platforms for regular patrols.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether officers had already been inside the station when the shootings occurred.