Police are searching for a person of interest in connection to an attack that left at least 29 people shot or otherwise injured when a lone gunman in a reflective vest and a gas mask threw smoke bombs on a subway car in Brooklyn and began shooting Tuesday morning.
A manhunt is now underway as details continue to emerge in this developing situation, and the NYPD has reportedly located a U-Haul believed to be connected to the shooting.
Police have identified 62-year-old Frank James as a person of interest and released a photo.
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This is Frank James. He is a person of interest in the shooting that took place on the N train in Brooklyn Tuesday morning. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call @NYPDTips at 1-800-577-TIPS.
Police say the U-Haul that was recovered at the scene was rented by James in Philadelphia. He has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.
Detectives have made significant progress and believe they have a good idea for whom they are searching, though Mayor Eric Adams declined to elaborate further. He spoke with Eyewitness News on Tuesday evening:
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Police say the shooting happened on a Manhattan-bound N train making express stops just before 8:30 a.m., and that the suspect was seen mumbling to himself before donning the gas mask and removing a canister from a bag before the car began to fill with smoke.
He then opened fire with a handgun, striking several people on the train and on the platform at the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park.
After passengers spilled onto the platform, everyone who was not wounded was told to get back on the train, which then continued to the 25th Street station in Greenwood Heights.
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“This perpetrator dropped those smoke cans, if that’s what they are, and shot around, and then exited from that point,” retired NYC Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “He’s not going to stay on there if there’s smoke on there, even if he has the filter mask.”
Shell casings were recovered on the train and on the platform along with a handgun that had three extended round magazines. One in the gun jammed, which is believed to have saved lives.
Multiple smoke devices and a bag of commercial-grade fireworks were also recovered, as well as a credit card authorities say was used to rent the U-Haul.
That U-Haul was located on Kings Highway in Gravesend, and once it is secured, they will investigate to determine if it has any connection to the suspect.
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While the cameras in the station were inoperable, law enforcement officials were able to get an image of the suspect from a bystander’s cell phone video.
No arrests have been made, and schools in the area went into a shelter in place as the search continued. All dismissals have since been completed without incident for students across all impacted schools, leading to some tearful reunions.
Adams, who remains under quarantine due to his COVID diagnosis, released a video statement on his various social media accounts.
“We’re praying for all New Yorkers who were injured or affected by today’s attack,” he said. “So far, we know that we have a multiple number of injuries, including victims of gunshot wounds…We will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized even by a single individual. The NYPD is searching for the suspect at large, and we will find him.”
Officials confirmed that 10 of the victims, who range in age from 17 to 50, were shot, and five are listed in critical but stable condition. None of the injuries are considered life-threatening.
It is unclear if the gunman fled out of a station or into the subway tunnel.
Governor Kathy Hochul called the suspect “cold-hearted and depraved” and warned that he remains on the loose and dangerous.
“We say no more,” she said. “No more mass shootings. No more disrupting lives. No more creating heartbreak for people just trying to live their lives as normal New Yorkers. It has to end and it ends now…Everyone involved in this has one purpose, and it is to stop the insanity of these crimes.”
After the chaos settled, hospitals reported a total of 29 patients being treated for injuries they sustained from the shooting.
The vast majority, 21, were taken to NYU Langone-Brooklyn and none of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries.
So far 16 patients have been released from NYU and one other could be released later tonight. Four patients will be held overnight at NYU and are all being treated for gunshot wounds.
Five other victims were taken to Maimonides, two of which are being kept overnight for gunshot wounds. The other three victims have already been released.
Police were looking at as many as four packages initially deemed suspicious, but they were later determined to be unfounded.
The suspect was described as a male, 5-foot-5 and 175 to 180 pounds, wearing a green construction vest and a gray hooded sweatshirt.
“This morning, Sunset Park commuters were assaulted by a senseless act of violence,” Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said. “As always in a time of crisis, Brooklynites experienced the swift reaction of our city’s first responders, including the MTA, NYPD, and FDNY. I am deeply heartened to see the Sunset Park community coming together during this time of tragedy – Brooklyn stands with you. I will continue to work with local authorities and elected officials as more details of the attack are confirmed and the perpetrator is found.”
There were also subway disruptions throughout the area across multiple lines.
An FBI official says they are assisting NYPD and that it does not appear related to terrorism at the moment, but FBI headquarters is monitoring.
This latest incident comes as New York City has faced a spate of 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 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.