A man detonated two gas canisters on a crowded New York City subway car during the Tuesday morning rush hour before opening fire on commuters, shooting 10 of them, authorities said.
The shooting happened shortly before 8:30 a.m. ET on a Manhattan-bound N train at the 36th Street station in the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, which serves the D, N, and R lines.
The suspect — described by authorities as a Black man who had been wearing an orange and green neon construction vest over a gray hooded sweatshirt — has not yet been apprehended. He donned a gas mask before beginning his rampage, firing his weapon at least 33 times, police said.
"This person is dangerous," Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters at a briefing on the scene. "We're asking individuals to be very vigilant and alert."
A video on social media showed terrified commuters fleeing a subway carriage full of smoke once the train pulled into the station.
New York City Fire Department officials said paramedics treated 17 people at the scene, transporting 15 of them to local hospitals. Ten suffered gunshot wounds, five of whom are in critical but stable condition.
Other individuals are believed to have taken themselves to hospitals. NYU Langone Hospital treated 21 victims in total for injuries including gunshot wounds and smoke inhalation, hospital spokesperson Lacy Scarmana told BuzzFeed News. Ten have since been discharged, while 11 others remain in stable condition.
NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital also treated at least three patients.
None of the victims are reported to have life-threatening injuries so far, officials said.
The reason for the attack is still under investigation, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell told reporters. "We do not know the motive at this time, but we're not ruling anything out," Sewell said.
Officials first identified James on Tuesday night, saying he rented a U-Haul van they believe is connected to the suspect, but stopped short of calling him a suspect in the investigation. The keys to the van, which was later recovered by police in Brooklyn, were found at the scene among the shooter's possessions, said the NYPD's chief of detectives, James Essig.
Officials also recovered a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, three extended Glock-type magazines, a hatchet, bullets and bullet fragments, two detonated and two undetonated smoke grenades, and gasoline.
"Mr. James is just a person of interest we know right now who rented that U-Haul van in Philadelphia," Essig said. "We don't know right now if Mr. James has any connection to the subway."
Sewell said that there were some "concerning" social media posts possibly connected to James, who has addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia, talking about homelessness, New York, and Mayor Adams. As a result, Sewell said the NYPD would be tightening the mayor's security detail "in an abundance of caution."
"I don't want to go into too many details about the mayor's security detail," Sewell said, declining to provide specifics about what was said about the mayor. "Just general comments that caused us some concern that are subject to investigation at this point."
Earlier on Tuesday, Adams told WCBS 880 that security cameras at the station appeared to have malfunctioned. "We are communicating with the MTA to find out was it throughout the entire station or was it just one camera, so that's still something that we are looking into," Adams said.
The mayor later told WCBS-TV that the city was doubling the number of police officers patrolling the subway system. In January, the NYPD deployed 1,000 additional officers underground, bringing the total number of police in the subways to 3,500 officers, according to AM New York Metro. That increase came after 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go was killed after a man pushed her in front of a train on Jan. 15.
An FDNY spokesperson told BuzzFeed News they first received a call about smoke in the station and that first responders discovered multiple people shot. "Several undetonated devices at [the] same location," the spokesperson said, describing the scene as still active.
The NYPD subsequently said on Twitter that there were no active explosive devices at this time.
Graphic photos on social media showed at least three people lying on the floor of the station in a pool of blood.
Schools in the area were put on a "shelter-in" status, an Education Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, meaning no one could leave their building.
On Twitter, subway officials said there was a "major disruption" to service.
Police urged the public to avoid the station and to "expect emergency vehicles and delays in the surrounding area."
Federal officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were also on the scene.
"While we gather more information, we ask New Yorkers to stay away from this area for their safety and so that first responders can help those in need and investigate," said Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for the mayor.
President Joe Biden was also briefed on the incident, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
"White House senior staff are in touch with Mayor Adams and Police Commissioner Sewell to offer any assistance as needed," Psaki said.
Located in southwestern Brooklyn, Sunset Park is home to a vast majority of working-class and immigrant families, many of whom are Asian and Latino.
The American Public Health Association says gun violence in the US is a public health crisis. It is a leading cause of premature death in the country, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually. As of April 12, at least 11,874 people have died from gun violence this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
"This is not only a New York City problem," Adams said, speaking to reporters virtually because he recently tested positive for COVID-19. "This rage, this violence, these guns, these relentless shootings are an American problem and it's going to take all levels of government to solve."