Gov. Kathy Hochul visited victims of the Sunset Park subway attack Tuesday night, aiming to bring a sense of security to the victims and to Brooklynites even as the suspected perpetrator remains at large.
A total of 23 people were injured Tuesday morning after a man donning a gas mask detonated a smoke grenade on a Manhattan-bound N train pulling into the 36th Street station, and fired 33 shots within the subway car as it filled with smoke.
The NYPD has identified 62-year-old Frank R. James as the prime suspect. James, who had previously posted concerning videos online ranting about Mayor Eric Adams and his homelessness policies, is still at large over 24 hours after the attack, and is considered armed and extremely dangerous.
Thankfully, no persons sustained life-threatening injuries, thanks to quick thinking by heroic transit workers who hastily moved to evacuate passengers from the station on a Manhattan-bound R train. James’ gun may also have jammed after firing 33 rounds from an extended magazine, the Daily Beast reports.
Ten of the injured passengers sustained gunshot wounds, while others suffered from smoke inhalation. Hochul on Tuesday night visited Maimonides Medical Center, where four injured teens are laid up, and said she had visited with an 18-year-old college student recovering from his wounds.
“He was on his way to school, and he was awaiting his surgery on an injury. It was either a bullet wound, or a shrapnel wound,” Hochul told reporters outside the hospital. “I had a chance to talk to the doctors about his condition, but he was able to communicate with me. He seems to be doing well and he’s in very good spirits, as well as his mother and grandmother who are there as well.”
Hochul also visited with a woman whose 16-year-old son was shot in the thumb, sustaining a “devastating” injury and requiring surgery on his hand.
“His mother does not speak English, she is Chinese, she is there alone. And it was so sad to hear her through a translator talk about her anxiety,” Hochul said. “All she has is her son and it’s just the two of them. And she does not know what she’s going to do when she leaves. So I had a long hug with her and let her know that we send the love of all New Yorkers.”
The governor — whose campaign is in a flux of sorts after the arrest and resignation Tuesday of Lieutenant Gov. Brian Benjamin — rode the subway with MTA Chair Janno Lieber to the hospital, in a show of the city’s resolve, and the resolve of its great artery, the subway system.
“I took the subway over here, earlier this evening with Janno to let New Yorkers know we appreciate their resiliency, how tough they are, but they still keep coming on this subway,” she said. “And I was really grateful to see that New Yorkers could not be kept down. There was testament to that today, we saw that on our subway rides.”
Mayor Eric Adams, still quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19, said Tuesday that he is giving consideration to adding metal detectors onto subway platforms, and aims to double the NYPD’s deployment in the system. Subway service has been fully restored on the D, N, and R lines after being shut down in much of Brooklyn on Tuesday after the attack.
An immense manhunt is ongoing to locate James, who managed to escape the scene of the crime undetected. Surveillance cameras at the 36th Street station appeared to have malfunctioned at the time of the attack, preventing law enforcement from determining James’ direction of egress. A radio belonging to an officer in the station at the time also apparently was not working; the officer asked passengers to call 911.
Cops identified James as the main suspect after discovering a credit card and keys to a U-Haul van left behind in the station. The credit card in James’ name had recently been used to rent a U-Haul van in Philadelphia. Police located the van in Gravesend later on Tuesday, but have not been able to locate James himself.
The attack has had a chilling effect on the tight-knit community of Sunset Park.
“It’s horrifying that New York has to go through something like this. This is the capital of the world,” said Edwin Perez, a school psychologist intern at neighboring P721K, which was on lockdown for hours after the attack. “It should be very safe for us and for everyone.”