Manhunt continues for NYC subway gunman

NEW YORK | New York police continue on Wednesday to track a man who, wearing a gas mask, wreaked havoc on the subway during morning rush hour on Tuesday by setting off two smoke devices before opening fire, injuring 23, including ten by gunshot.

• Read also: Shooting: terror in the New York subway

New York police continued Wednesday the hunt for a shooter who caused chaos the day before in the subway and wounded at least 23 people, including 10 by bullets, while millions of employees resumed transport to go to work.

New York Mayor Eric Adams called on New Yorkers to be “vigilant”, while ruling out at this stage that the shooter, still on the run 24 hours after the incident, has an accomplice.

“He seems to have acted alone,” said the Democratic mayor, who took office on January 1, on MSNBC, promising to put the megalopolis back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the fight against crime.

  • Listen to the interview with Martine Hébert, Delegate General of Quebec in New York on QUB radio:

The noose has also tightened around a man, simply presented on Tuesday by the police (NYPD) as a “person of interest” for the investigation, but now qualified as a “suspect” by the mayor of New York .

On Tuesday, the NYPD had released photos of this individual, Frank James, indicating that he had rented the van found in Brooklyn and whose key was discovered at the crime scene.

And Wednesday morning, New Yorkers received messages on their phones giving the description of this “62-year-old black man”, asking to alert the police to give any useful information to the investigation.

No choice

The man posted various videos on YouTube, where he delivers long political tirades, sometimes virulent, and criticizes Eric Adams, which prompted the police to tighten security around the mayor.

As the hunt for the shooter, described as “dangerous” the day before, continued, millions of New Yorkers took to commuting to work, some posting selfies on social media to show that life was getting back to normal.

“I don’t really have a choice, I have to take the metro. I hope it will be safer today. It felt a little emptier,” said passenger Laura Swalm, 49, who lives in neighboring New Jersey.

“I always pay attention to what surrounds me since September 11 (2001). But there have been more incidents on the docks recently, so I’m paying more attention,” she told AFP.

The Twitter account of the New York subway, one of the largest networks in the world, announced early Wednesday morning the return of “full service” on all lines, in particular at the “36th street” station in southern Brooklyn, where the shooter has raged and where several lines pass.

33 bullets fired

Tuesday morning, around 8:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. GMT), at a time when the metro trains are crowded, the individual, who was wearing a gas mask, lit two devices which smoked the car, then shot at the passengers while as the train entered the station.

“We were really lucky it wasn’t much more serious,” said NYPD Chief Keechant Sewell, summarizing authorities’ relief after the attack where the suspect — still at large — fired 33 bullets.

“All you see is black smoke, and I turned to the right, and I saw this guy with a mask,” testified on CNN one of the victims, Hourari Benkada, since his hospital bed.

“The shooting lasted about a minute, I would say about ten shots (…). I have never heard so many shots coming out of a handgun… (…) He probably had extended magazines or another firearm”, added this man, hit by bullet at the level of the knee. At the scene, investigators found a handgun and three magazines.

Tuesday’s attack came as New York has faced a spike in crime since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of homicides rising from 319 in 2019 to 488 in 2021, although the annual toll remains well below the more than 2,000 per year recorded in the early 1990s.

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