Brooklyn shooting: Sunset Park neighbourhood rocked by subway attack with schools on lockdown

Sunset Park is located on the southwestern edge of Brooklyn overlooking the Upper Bay

Megan Sheets
Wednesday 13 April 2022 01:04 BST
Brooklyn residents describe 'heartbreak' after subway shooting injures 28

Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighbourhood is reeling after a subway station attack that left at least 10 shot and 18 wounded on Tuesday morning.

Sunset Park is located on the southwestern edge of Brooklyn overlooking the Upper Bay between New York and New Jersey, with views of the Statue of Liberty.

The neighbourhood is named after the 24.5-acre hilltop park at its centre, with a thriving Chinatown on one side and a predominantly Latino community on the other.

The waterfront is a popular draw for creatives and artists at the Industry City warehouses.

The area was rocked on Tuesday when an attack unfolded at the 36th Street subway station in the middle of rush hour - prompting lockdowns at schools.

Police responded to the scene at about 8.30am after receiving reports of smoke inside the station.

At least 10 people sustained gunshots and 18 others were wounded but none appeared to have sustained life-threatening injuries, authorities said at a midday news conference.

As of 3.30pm no arrests have been made as authorities were said to be searching for a man wearing a gas mask and a green construction vest. The NYPD issued a description of the suspected gunman as a Black male about 5’5”, 180 pounds and wearing a gray sweatshirt. A gun, magazines, gas canisters and fireworks were recovered from the scene, with the investigation suggesting the gun may have jammed.

Late on Tuesday 12 April, police named Frank R James as a person of interest in the case, though authorities were careful not to suggest that Mr James carried out the shooting.

Police said 33 shots were fired in the shooting, and announced a $50,000 reward for information about the crime.

Police also said they are searching for a U-Haul van with Arizona plates numbered AL31408.

As the manhunt continues, authorities have come under scrutiny for the suspect’s escape as New York City Mayor Eric Adams confirmed that surveillance cameras in the 36th Street station malfunctioned and thus did not capture the attack.

Officials said the attack began as an N train was waiting to enter the 36th Street station when a man donned a gas mask and deployed gas from a canister before opening fire inside the train and on the platform.

Graphic photos posted to Twitter showed injured commuters covered in blood. A video posted to the site captured terrified commuters getting off a subway car as it pulls into the 25th St station with smoke billowing from the carriage. Several appear overcome with smoke inhalation.

Witness Roddy Broke tweeted: “Either shots or a bomb went off at 36th Street. Scariest moment of my life, man.”

Juliana Fonda, a broadcast engineer at WNYC, told the Gothamist she heard shots fired from one car over while riding the N train.

“People were pounding and looking behind them, running, trying to get on to the train,” Ms Fonda said.

“The door locked between cars and the people behind us, there were a lot of loud pops and there was smoke in the other car.”

In this photo provided by Will B Wylde, a person is aided in a subway car in the Brooklyn borough of New York on 12 April
In this photo provided by Will B Wylde, a person is aided in a subway car in the Brooklyn borough of New York on 12 April (AP)

Another commuter told the news site that 36th St station was filled with smoke as subway riders tried to evacuate.

“There was blood everywhere,” the commuter, who gave her first name Joana, said.

“Everybody’s just running out because they thought they were next.”

Among the people caught up in the mayhem was Brooklyn resident Danny Mastrogiorgio, whose four-year-old son goes to school near the 36th Street station.

The Independent spoke to Mr Mastrogiorgio as he stood in the crowd gathered behind police tape on 24th street shortly after the attack.

“I saw people running up the stairs, running down the street. A guy from the MTA came out waving his arms, trying to get the cops to come down,” Mr Mastrogiorgio said.

“Eventually a bunch of ambulances pulled up. I saw them take one guy with a leg wound. They had him in the middle of the street there before the ambulance got him.

“It’s disturbing. I got a four-year-old boy I dropped off down the street. I just got off the train. We take this train every day. I would have been on the train with him.”

“I’m a lifelong New Yorker, I tend not to over react to crime things, but it’s bad.”

Mr Mastrogiorgio added that his son’s school has gone into lockdown, like many others in the area.

Few confirmed details have been given about the “undetonated devices” found at the station, but the NYPD said none of them were “active” amid unverified social media reports that an explosion may have gone off.

Train service on the D, N and R lines, which pass through the 36th Street station, has been disrupted during an investigation.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority posted a service alert about the “incident” but did not provide any additional details.

The agency said the B, F and Q lines would also face “major delays”.

Police have directed the public to steer clear of the area around 36th Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden was briefed on the latest developments and the White House was in touch with Mayor Eric Adams and the police commissioner.

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Mr Adams, asked for New Yorkers to stay away from this area for their safety.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke alongside law enforcement at the midday press conference and urged residents to stay vigilant as the manhunt continues.

“Tranquility and normalness was disrupted, brutally disrupted, by an individual so cold-hearted and depraved of heart that they had no caring about the individuals that they assaulted as they simply went about their daily lives. This individual is still on the loose. This person is dangerous,” Ms Hochul said.

Mayor Adams posted his own statement - recorded remotely after he had tested positive for Covid-19 - saying: “We will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorised, even by a single individual.”

He said the New York Police Department was looking for the suspect, “and we will find him.”

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