Search underway for person of interest in NYC subway shooting

Northeast

NEW YORK (NewsNation) — A $50,000 reward has been issued for information leading to the arrest of the suspect in the New York City subway shooting.

A total of 10 people were shot and 13 others injured Tuesday morning in Brooklyn, New York, when a gunman filled a rush-hour subway train with smoke and unleashed gunfire, authorities said.

NYPD identified Frank James, 62, as a person of interest in the case. Investigators have not pinpointed him as the person responsible for the shooting, but say a U-Haul key found among evidence at the subway shooting scene led to the recovery of a van James rented out of Philadelphia with Arizona license plates AL 31408.

Authorities say James has ties to both Philadelphia and Wisconsin. They are still investigating whether he has any direct links to New York or not.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell reports there are concerning social media posts connected to James.

“Based on some preliminary information, there are some postings possibly connected to our person of interest where he mentions homelessness, he mentions New York and he does mention Mayor (Eric) Adams,” Sewell said.

As a result of the posts, the police department is heightening the mayor’s security detail out of an abundance of caution.

Police say they do not have a motive for the violence at this time.

Meanwhile, the NYPD, along with the ATF and FBI, are reviewing videos, interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence from the subway shooting scene and the scene where the U-Haul van was located.

At the subway shooting scene, investigators recovered a 9mm handgun, extended magazines, a hatchet, liquid believed to be gasoline, the U-Haul key, what’s believed to be consumer grade fireworks in a bag and a fuse.

Just before 8:24 a.m., Commissioner Sewell said, a single suspect on a Manhattan-bound train wearing what appeared to be a gas mask tossed two smoke grenades into the N-train of the subway and fired a gun at least 33 times as the train pulled up to the Sunset Park area.

Bullets struck 10 people and 13 others were injured from smoke inhalation, falling down or panic attacks. Of those injured, NYFD officials said five people are in critical but stable condition. NYFD previously reported that 17 people were hurt.

A train passenger’s video shows smoke and people pouring out of a subway car. Cries erupt as passengers run for an exit as a few others limp off the train. One falls to the platform, and a person yells “Someone call 911!”

In another video from the scene, people tend to bloodied passengers lying on the platform, some amid what appear to be small puddles of blood, and another person is on the floor of a subway car.

“It was just scary,” a passenger on the train told NewsNation. “The train was packed. I didn’t know what to do. It’s confusion everywhere.”

The gallery below may contain graphic content that may be disturbing for some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

Authorities hope videos of the chaos during the morning commute will help identify the shooter. Witness video is expected to serve as a key element in the investigation since officials say surveillance cameras were not working at three of the substations Tuesday morning.

Hundreds of detectives are reviewing videos from the scene. The FBI is urging anyone with digital information to share it at fbi.gov/brooklynshooting.

According to police, the suspected shooter is still at large and described as a Black male, approximately 5-foot-5 with a heavy-set build. Officials said he was wearing an orange “construction-type” vest, a gray hooded sweatshirt and a neon green construction helmet. He is believed to have entered the subway at the Kings Highway entrance.

“Clearly, this individual boarded the train and was intent on violence,” Sewell said, later adding: “This incident is a grave concern to New Yorkers. We cannot lose sight of victims in this city. We will use every resource we can to bring those to justice who continue to prey on the citizens of New York.”

Via teleconference due to a recent COVID-19 diagnosis, Mayor Eric Adams echoed Sewell’s sentiments, saying police will capture the shooting suspect and prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.

“We saw a quiet Tuesday morning on the N-train turn into a warzone as a smoke bomb was detonated and multiple shots rang out,” the mayor said.

Adams said the city will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized, even by a single individual and that days like these play out too often across the country. He expressed that the shooting speaks to a larger issue, calling gun violence an epidemic.

“This is not only a New York City problem. This rage, this violence, these guns, these relentless shooters, are an American problem,” Adams said. “It is going to take all levels of government to solve it. It is going to take the entire nation to speak out and push back against a cult of death that has taken hold in this nation. A cult that allows innocence to be sacrificed on a daily basis. A country where buying weapons of mass destruction is as easy as picking up a piece of plywood or a garden shovel. A country where there are more guns than people.

Gov. Kathy Hochul warned New Yorkers to stay vigilant.

“This individual is still on the loose. This person is dangerous,” Hochul, a Democrat, said at an earlier news conference Tuesday. “This is an active shooter situation right now in the city of New York.”

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garaland have been briefed on the shooting.

Biden said “we’re not letting up on it” until “we find that perpetrator.”

The president later tweeted: “Jill and I are praying for those injured in the New York City subway shooting. We are grateful for the first responders and civilians who jumped into action. My team has been in touch with city officials and we are working to support efforts on the ground.”

The shooting is not being investigated as an act of terror at this time, but authorities said they are not ruling anything out.

NYPD said there are no active explosive devices on the city’s subway trains or near the 36th Street subway station. Officers are asking people to avoid the area of 36th Street and 4th Avenue due to the investigation.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the person of interest is asked to call 800-577-TIPS

This story is developing. Refresh for details.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.

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