NEW YORK CITY (NEXSTAR) – Ten people were shot on Tuesday morning during an attack in a subway car in Brooklyn, where officials said they also found “several undetonated devices,” according to police and fire officials in New York City.
Person of interest identified
At a press conference Tuesday evening, the New York Police Department said a person of interest had been identified as Frank R. James, a 62-year-old man with addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia.
He was still at large as of the time of the press conference.
Police said a U-Haul key found at the scene helped them track down James. The key was for a U-Haul van that police say James had rented. The van was found about four miles from the subway station where the attack took place.
Officials stopped short of saying James was the shooter, but said he was wanted in connection with the shooting, as the U-Haul key was found among the alleged shooter’s possessions.
Police said James had made “concerning posts” on social media, and they were increasing New York City Mayor’s Eric Adams security detail.
Suspect opened fire on N train; 10 people shot, 13 injured
At a press conference earlier on Tuesday, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the suspect was riding the N train at approximately 8:24 a.m. when he put on a gas mask and detonated two smoke canisters. He opened fire as the train filled with smoke, hitting people both in the subway car and on the platform at the 36th Street subway station in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park, according to Sewell.
Tuesday evening, the NYPD confirmed 10 people had been shot – seven men and three women.
An additional 13 people were injured while trying to get out of the subway car or by smoke inhalation, the police department said.
The victims were being treated at local hospitals, including NYU Langone and Methodist, the FDNY told Nexstar. None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
Suspect wore gas mask, green vest
At Tuesday’s press conference, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell confirmed the suspect had worn a gas mask and a neon “construction-type vest” over a gray hooded sweatshirt. Sewell declined to say if the suspect was attempting to pass as an MTA or city employee.
At the scene, investigators found 33 discharged shell casings, two detonated smoke canisters, two additional canisters that were not detonated, a hatchet, a liquid believed to be gasoline, fireworks and a fuse.
The suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 5-feet, 5-inches, with a “heavy build,” Sewell said.
Police are currently asking the public for assistance or tips, “no matter how insignificant,” that may lead to the suspect’s identification and arrest, she said. Anyone with information is being urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
The suspect’s motive remained unclear at the time of the press conference, Sewell said.
NYPD finds U-Haul van
Police located a U-Haul van that was sought in connection with the attack Tuesday evening. The van was found in Brooklyn, about four miles from where the shooting occurred, and was unoccupied.
The street where the van was parked was closed off and nearby buildings were being evacuated as a bomb squad investigated the vehicle.
No ‘explosive devices’ on NYC subway trains
The FDNY said Tuesday morning that “several undetonated devices” were found at the station, but the NYPD later wrote on Twitter that there none were active.
At the press conference, Sewell stated that there were “no known explosive devices” on the city’s trains. Mayor Adams, in a statement shared to his website, also said authorities had “not found any live explosive devices, but the suspect in today’s attack detonated smoke bombs to cause havoc.”
The incident is not currently being investigated as an act of terrorism, but Sewell said police are not ruling out the possibility.
Startling video emerges on social media
Footage believed to be taken at the 36th Subway Station appeared to show panicked NYC commuters rushing to exit a train on Tuesday morning. In one video, which began circulating on social media shortly after the attack, passengers flee train cars that appeared to be filling with smoke or gas.
One person looked to be hobbling from the train on an injured foot, the video shows. The rider then layed down on the subway platform.
An MTA employee over the loudspeaker could also be heard instructing passengers to quickly board a different train, located across the platform.
NYC’s Department of Emergency Management warned the public to expect delays, disruptions and cancellations due to the investigation, especially on and D, N or R trains in either direction. Commuters are being told to avoid the area, which continues to be an active crime scene.
President Biden briefed on situation
White House officials said Tuesday morning that President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation in Brooklyn. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also confirmed the White House was in touch with NYC Mayor Eric Adams and the city’s police commissioner “to offer assistance.”
The mayor’s office is asking New Yorkers to avoid the station and the surrounding area during the city’s investigation.
“While we gather more information, we ask New Yorkers to stay away from this area for their safety and so that first responders can help those in need and investigate,” the mayor’s press secretary tweeted.
New Yorkers ‘sick and tired,’ gov says
At Tuesday’s press conference, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would devote the full resources of the state to fight “surging crime.”
“It has to end and it ends now,” she said. “We are sick and tired of reading headlines about crime, whether they’re mass shootings, or the loss of a teenage girl or a 13-year-old. It has to stop,”
The NYPD and FDNY said additional briefings would be held later on Tuesday.