Police identify 'person of interest' in New York City subway shooting

New York City police say they are looking for a 62-year-old man in connection to a shooting in a Brooklyn subway station this morning which left dozens injured, including 10 people who were shot. 

10 people were shot, 13 others wounded in attack in a Brooklyn subway station

In a photo provided to The Associated Press, a person is helped outside a subway car in Brooklyn on Tuesday. A gunman filled a rush-hour subway train with smoke and shot multiple people, leaving wounded commuters bleeding on the platform as others ran screaming. (Will B Wylde/The Associated Press)

New York City police say they are looking for a 62-year-old man in connection to a shooting in a Brooklyn subway station this morning which left dozens injured, including 10 people who were shot. 

Investigators say a gunman in a gas mask and a construction vest set off a smoke canister on a rush-hour subway train in Brooklyn and opened fire at 8:23 a.m. on Tuesday, firing 33 times. Police were scouring the city for the shooter after locating a rental truck connected to the crime scene. 

"At this time, we still do not know the suspect's motivation," Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell told reporters at an evening briefing. "Clearly the individual boarded the train and was intent on violence." 

Along with the 10 people shot, another 13 were hurt either as they rushed to get out of the station or suffered smoke inhalation. None of the injuries is considered life threatening. 

WATCH | Man describes being on the subway when gunfire erupted: 

Brooklyn shooting witness recounts sequence of events

1 year ago
Duration 4:48
Kenneth Foote-Smith was a witness of Tuesday's Brooklyn subway shooting and says when his mind wanders back to the morning's events, he tries to stay thankful for having gotten away.

The frightening situation unfolded as panicked commuters ran from the train as others limped out of it. At least one collapsed on the platform.

"My subway door opened into calamity. It was smoke and blood and people screaming," eyewitness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS. Smoke poured out of the train car as the door opened, he added.

The gunfire erupted on a subway train that pulled into a station in the Sunset Park neighbourhood, about a 15-minute train ride from Manhattan and predominantly home to Hispanic and Asian communities.

Sewell earlier said the attack was not being investigated as terrorism but added that she was "not ruling out anything."

Bomb squad personnel are seen searching a moving truck during the ongoing investigation after a subway shooting Tuesday. (John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

Weapon, other items found 

Police Chief of Detectives James Essig said investigators weren't sure whether the person of interest, identified as Frank R. James, had any link to the subway attack.

Authorities also were looking into social media posts by someone with the same name that mentioned homelessness, New York and Mayor Eric Adams, leading officials to tighten the mayor's security detail, Essig and Sewell said. Sewell said the posts were "concerning."

Authorities found a nine-millimetre semi-automatic handgun at the scene, along with extended magazines, a hatchet, both detonated and undetonated smoke grenades, a black garbage can, a rolling cart, gasoline and key to a U-Haul van, Chief of Detectives James Essig said.

He said the key led investigators to the van renter, who has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin. Authorities were looking for him, but Essig stressed that it wasn't yet clear whether the man was linked to the shooting.

Police officers in tactical gear arrive at the scene of a shooting at a subway station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on Tuesday morning. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Officials believe the weapon jammed, preventing the suspect from continuing to fire. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has completed an urgent trace to identify the gun's manufacturer, seller and initial owner.

The officials said authorities zeroed in on a person of interest after the credit card used to rent the van was found at the shooting scene.

'It has to end,' says governor

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who encouraged witnesses to come forward, described the suspect as "cold-hearted" and "depraved."

"No more mass shootings. No more disrupting lives. No more creating heartbreak for people just trying to live their lives ... it has to end," she said.

WATCH | Witnesses describe terrifying subway shooting scene: 

Witnesses in Brooklyn subway shooting describe chaotic scene

1 year ago
Duration 3:09
Scenes of chaos erupted on board a subway train in Brooklyn during rush hour Tuesday morning after a gunman opened fire and set off a smoke canister, injuring at least two dozen people.

Witnesses describe chaos, smoke

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last fall that it had put security cameras in all 472 subway stations citywide, saying they would put criminals on an "express track to justice." But the cameras apparently malfunctioned in the station where the train arrived, New York Mayor Eric Adams told WCBS-AM.

One train rider's video shows smoke and people pouring out of a subway car. Wails erupt as passengers run for an exit as a few others limp off the train. One falls to the platform, and a person hollers, "Someone call 911!" In other video and photos 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.

A wider shot shows emergency personnel gathered at the entrance to the subway stop in Brooklyn on Tuesday. (John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

Danny Mastrogiorgio of Brooklyn had just dropped off his son at school when he saw a crush of passengers, including multiple wounded, running up the subway stairway at the 25th Street station in panic. At least two had visible leg injuries, he said.

"It was insane," he told The Associated Press. "No one knew exactly what was going on."

Police officers were canvassing Fourth Avenue, the station's cross-street, asking witnesses whether they were on the train. A sea of emergency lights was visible from at least a dozen blocks away, where a police cordon was set up.

A member of the New York Police Department climbs a ladder to retrieve a security camera near the subway station in Brooklyn. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Fire and police officials had investigated early reports that there had been an explosion, but Sewell said that there were no known explosive devices.

Recent attacks on subway system

Janno Lieber, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, praised New Yorkers in the vicinity of the attack for "stepping up" to help out injured and shaken passengers.

No MTA workers were physically hurt, according to a statement from the Transport Workers Union Local 100.

The New York City subway system has seen a spate of recent attacks. An Asian-American woman was pushed to her death in front of a train at the Times Square subway station in January, while a Staten Island man died last week after a stabbing at Wall Street station.

"I'm committing the full resources of our state to fight this surge of crime, this insanity that is seizing our city, because we want to get back to normal," Hochul said.

"This is what the mayor and I are going to continue to work for."

Following a 2017 incident that caused panic at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, a U.S. permanent resident from Bangladesh was sentenced on federal charges last year to life in prison. The man detonated an improvised explosive device, leading to non-life-threatening injuries for several people nearby.

With files from CBC News