On Tuesday, April 12, a masked gunman threw multiple smoke bombs on the Manhattan-bound N train as it pulled into the 36th Street station in Sunset Park. Reports say a total of at least 23 people were injured: 10 people were hit by gunfire and 13 reported injuries related to the smoke bombs or panic attacks.
Police named Frank James, 62, a person of interest on Tuesday, then a suspect by Tuesday night. James was taken into police custody on Wednesday, April 13 and was being held at the 9th Precinct.
Found at the scene was a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, extended magazines a black garbage can, a hatchet and both detonated and undetonated smoke grenades. Also found was the key to a U-Haul van which has since been located and examined by a bomb squad.
SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian sent a campus-wide email to express his condolences and support for students who live in the area or know people who live in the area.
“Such a public act of indiscriminate violence, while most damaging to those directly attacked, has ripple effects that extend to members of our SUNY New Paltz community,” the email read. “This includes students, faculty and staff who are themselves from Brooklyn or who have ties to the Sunset Park area, a working-class neighborhood that is home to many immigrant families of Asian and Latin American descent.”
“My best friend was supposed to be on that train, but she was late for school that day,” said fourth-year psychology major Sophia Delorenzo. “My sisters were close. This particular train station is closer to my house so it was super scary.”
She said that she was shocked and scared when she heard about what had happened — her concern immediately going to her friends and family.
While this is an extreme attack, crime on the subways has been an ongoing issue. In February of this year, a 40-year old woman in Manhattan died after being pushed onto the tracks in front of the R train in Times Square.
“Violent crime on the subway has been a fear of many people who live in the city,” Delorenzo said.
“My friends and I’s fear of something like this happening has been present for a long time because of the violence that happens in the subway, especially at night.”
A report from late February showed that transit crime went up by 73% while arrests in transit went up by 64%.
“It is a product of underlying problems, such as violence, mental health and safety in the city that need to be addressed and should’ve been addressed a long time ago,” DeLorenzo said.
While the shooter in this situation has been taken into custody, many New Yorkers are apprehensive towards riding the train.
“I know a ton of people who feel like they can’t ride the train anymore, which is so disruptive to how we live, especially as young adults/teens,” DeLorenzo said.
On Tuesday night, former police officer and current New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the mass shooting had turned the subways into a “war zone.”
“I will not stop until the peace we deserve becomes the reality we experience,” Mr. Adams said in a video message from Gracie Mansion.
“We will not surrender our city to the violent few.”