A man in a gas mask shot 10 people on a packed New York subway train during the morning rush-hour on Tuesday, setting off a smoke bomb before opening fire on terrified passengers. Police have launched a massive manhunt for the shooter, but said the incident in Brooklyn was not being investigated as an act of terrorism and that none of the injuries were considered life-threatening.
New York Police Department commissioner Keechant Sewell told a press conference the suspected gunman put on a gas mask just as the train was arriving at 36th Street station.
“He then opened the canister that was in his bag and then the car filled with smoke. After that he began shooting,” Sewell said.
The city fire department said six other people were wounded as panicked passengers fled the smoke-filled train, which pulled up to the platform moments after the shooting. Sewell described the suspect as a lone “male, Black, approximately five feet five inches tall with a heavy build,” wearing a green construction type vest and a grey hooded sweatshirt.
Police were alerted to the shooting just before 8:30 am
Verified video footage posted on social media showed the train pulling into the 36th Street station, and smoke billowing out the doors as passengers rushed off, some apparently injured. One of them, Yav Montano, recounted on CNN being inside the car when it began filling with smoke — and shots rang out.
“In the moment, I did not think that it was a shooting because it sounded like fireworks,” he said. “It just sounded like a bunch of scattered popping.”
There were 40 to 50 passengers inside at the time and they began crowding towards the front, Montano said — but the door to the next car was locked.
“There were people in that other car that saw what was happening. And they tried to open the door, but they couldn’t,” he said.
CNN aired a brief video shot by Montano inside the car showing passengers crowded together, some wearing masks and others pressing clothing against their mouths to protect against the smoke.
“There were some people whose clothes, whose pants were covered in blood,” Montano said, adding that he could not tell who was injured. “All I know is I saw, like, a lot of blood.”
Once the train finally reached the platform, the doors opened.
“People filed out, people forgot bags and shoes, and they just left everything to just get out of there as soon as possible,” Montano said.
Further video footage posted on Instagram appeared to show passengers tending to bloodied victims lying on a smoky station platform. Those images showed subway staff shepherding panicked passengers, some still clutching their morning coffee cups, off the platform and into the cars of a stationary train.