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New Yorkers can't ride out their crime fears
update:April 14,2022
Paramedics help the injured near the New York subway station where a shooting occurred on Tuesday. GUO KE/XINHUA
Subway shooting, with smoke bomb, jangles nerves in city increasingly on edge
As the year began, New Yorkers shuddered at a subway crime straight out of urban nightmares-the death of a woman shoved onto the tracks by a disturbed stranger. The city's new mayor vowed to "make sure New Yorkers feel safe in our subway system".
But commuters on Tuesday morning faced an attack that evoked many riders' deepest fears. A rush-hour train car filled with smoke as it pulled into a Brooklyn station. Gunshots rang out. Frightened riders fled, and so did the gunman, who remains at large.
Tuesday's mass shooting left at least 29 people injured, including more than 10 who were shot. They were treated at three nearby hospitals for injuries, none of which are life-threatening, according to hospital representatives.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expressed sympathy to those injured and their families, and China would continue to closely follow the progress of the incident, ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Much remains unknown about the attack. At a news conference on Tuesday night, authorities said they were looking for Frank R. James, 62, who they say rented a van linked to the shooting.
Police said they found a credit card at the scene linked to a rented U-Haul van believed to be tied to the shooter, and hours later found the unoccupied vehicle parked in Brooklyn, the scene of the attack.
James was listed as the renter of a van, and was identified as a person of interest, Chief James Essig, the New York Police Department's chief of detectives, said at the news conference.
"We don't know if Mr James has any connection to the subway; that's still under investigation," Essig said.
There were some "concerning "social media posts police believe may be connected to James, New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. James has addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia, authorities said. The U-Haul van was rented in Philadelphia.
The attack began at about 8:30 am on a Manhattan-bound train that pulled into a station in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, about a 15-minute train ride from Manhattan and predominantly home to Hispanic and Asian communities.
The assailant detonated a smoke bomb and opened fire, police said, after telling people inside the crowded car: "Start running."
Witnesses told local media that they heard from 15 to 30 shots, and one rider recalled the gunman saying, "Oops, my bad" after the smoke bomb went off. The 9 mm pistol used by the shooter jammed, preventing him from causing more casualties, the New York Post reported. Police recovered the jammed Glock and two extended magazines at the scene, CNN and the Post reported.
Other items, including a hatchet, fireworks, pepper spray, extra ammunition and two gas canisters, were also found, according to the Post.
Obstacles in search
The search for the gunman was being hampered because one, and maybe none, of the security cameras inside the subway station that might have captured the scene were working, according to New York Mayor Eric Adams.
Sewell said initially that the incident wasn't being investigated as terrorism, but later said investigators were considering all motives.
Adams, who has been quarantined with the coronavirus since Sunday, said in an interview that it was "premature" to rule out terrorism.
"This is terror," the 61-year-old former New York City police captain said. "Someone attempted to terrorize our system. They brought in what appears to be some form of smoke device, they discharged a weapon. So, I don't want to be premature in identifying if this was or was not."
On early Wednesday, Adam said that investigators were zeroed in on finding James.
It was a searing reminder of the city's unyielding battle with gun violence and the specter of terror-like attacks that hang over New York City-particularly the subway system that is its transportation backbone.
Police and security officials have made many attempts to safeguard the city against such attacks.
Yet the sprawling system, with its nearly 500 stations, largely remains like the city streets themselves: Too big to guard, according to The Associated Press.
In the hours after the shooting, with the gunman still on the loose, commuters like Julia Brown had little choice but to keep riding the rails.
"I lived through 9/11. I lived through the blackout. You just have to be as safe as you can, and just be mindful around your environment," Brown told The Associated Press.

By AI HEPING in New York
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