New York remains in an “active shooter situation” as police continue to search for the shooter who opened fire on a Brooklyn subway during Tuesday morning’s rush hour.
He was described as a black man, wearing a gas mask, a green “construction-style” vest over a gray hoodie and carrying a briefcase. He has a “heavy build” at 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in) and 81 kg (180 lb).
At least 16 people were injured – 10 of them by gunfire – in the attack at the 36th Street and Fourth Avenue station in Sunset Park. Five are in critical but stable condition.
“The incident is still ongoing,” said John Miller, NYPD Assistant Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
Investigators do not have the suspect’s identity or whereabouts, with Governor Kathy Hochul warning New Yorkers the shooter was “still at large”.
“This person is dangerous,” she said.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the attack was ‘not being investigated as an act of terrorism’ before later saying she was ‘not ruling anything out’ when she was pressed by journalists.
“We don’t know the motive,” she said.
“As the train pulled into the station, the subject put on a gas mask, then he opened a cartridge that was in his bag, then the car filled with smoke. After that, he started shooting,” she added.
A federal law enforcement source said Newsweek the attack could not be officially classified as terrorism until a motive was determined.
Two current theories, the source told the outlet, are that he was an MTA employee or that he was conducting surveillance for a future attack.
They added that he was wearing an MTA uniform and a utility belt and was seen fleeing towards an R train bound for Manhattan. The subway tunnels were being searched as part of the manhunt.
The “active police incident” was declared after the shooting, with the NYPD warning people to avoid the area from 3rd Avenue to 5th Avenue at 20th to 40th Street.
The FDNY was called to report smoke at the station and discovered several people with gunshot wounds around 8:30 a.m. local time.
Authorities investigated reports of “unexploded ordnance,” but as of 10 a.m., the NYPD said there were no active explosive devices at the scene.
Dramatic footage posted online shows terrified commuters fleeing from a smoke-filled subway car after the attack. Some lay on the ground suffering from gunfire, shrapnel smoke inhalation and “panic” as people tried to flee.
Sources said the masked man threw a device into the air before opening fire on the 36and Street station, where the D, N, and R lines cross the southwest edge of Brooklyn and overlook the southern tip of Manhattan.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said lines would be broken as authorities search for the suspected shooter. Lines B, F and Q also suffered “significant delays”.