NEW YORK (PIX11) — Almost three months after Michelle Alyssa Go’s tragic death galvanized New Yorkers over subway crime, another brutal attack unfolded underground Tuesday: More than 20 people were injured during a shooting at a Brooklyn subway station. Ten people were shot, officials said.
“It was insane,” one witness told The Associated Press. “No one knew exactly what was going on.”
The suspect was still on the loose as of Tuesday evening, but police identified a person of interest they want to speak with. Frank R. James, was named in connection with the attack. He was not a suspect, as of Tuesday evening, police said.
Police said James’ name was on a U-Haul rental from Philadelphia. The key to the U-Haul was found on the train where the attack occurred and the van was found in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon.
“We will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized, even by a single individual,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
Tuesday’s attack was just the latest example of violence and chaos in the New York City subway system. Transit crime rose in January, February and March of 2022, according to NYPD statistics.
Officials said crime underground has risen, on average, 70% when compared to 2021. Below, PIX11 News has compiled a wide-ranging — but certainly not comprehensive — timeline of 2022 subway attacks, as well as the city’s response to transit violence.
Only a few hours into the new year, a good Samaritan was struck and killed after trying to help another man off of the tracks in a Bronx subway station. Police said a group of seven approached a 38-year-old man on the southbound platform for the B and D trains at the Fordham Road station about 2:40 a.m. on Jan 1. One of the suspects displayed a knife and the group then assaulted the man.
He fell onto the tracks during the attack, just as a train was coming into the station. That’s when another man, 36, went down onto the tracks to help the victim and was fatally struck by the train, police said.
That incident was the first criminal, fatal incident in the subway system PIX11 News reported in 2022. A man who fell while jumping a turnstile was struck and killed days before, but police said no criminality was involved.
On Jan. 15, 40-year-old Michelle Go was pushed onto subway tracks. EMS personnel pronounced her dead at the scene.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the attack was unprovoked, adding that there was no apparent interaction between the suspect, 61-year-old Simon Martial, and Go.
“This was a senseless, absolutely senseless, act of violence,” Sewell said.
Lawmakers focused on housing and mental health treatment in the wake of the tragedy. Martial was emotionally disturbed and homeless, according to officials.
Days later, Adams — who rode the subway to City Hall his first day on the job — made a confession: He doesn’t feel safe riding the rails. Still, he said that a thriving subway system is key to the city’s post-COVID economic recovery.
“To lose a New Yorker in this fashion will only continue to elevate the fears of individuals not using our subway system,” Adams said.
Mayor Eric Adams announced his “subway safety plan” on Feb. 18, laying out how his administration would address security while also providing new support for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness in the system.
As part of the initiative, the city planned to deploy up to 30 joint response teams to reach out those experiencing homelessness. Additionally, the NYPD committed to a “visible increase” in officers underground. But the announcement didn’t quell New Yorkers’ fears entirely.
“I personally don’t feel safe,” one woman told PIX11 News.
Another woman said it’s necessary to stay “vigilant,” noting that violent — and even deadly — incidents seemed to be happening more frequently.
Less than 24 hours later, more violence erupted underground when three men attempted to rob a homeless man. That 46-year-old victim was stabbed multiple times in the buttocks and thigh inside the Jamaica-Van Wyck Station in Queens.
On Feb. 21, a man used a bag of human feces to attack a woman waiting at a Bronx subway station. Days later, another woman was repeatedly beaten with a hammer during a robbery.
Chief of Detectives James Essig said the victim suffered a fractured skull and lacerations to her head.
“This was an unprovoked attack,” Essig said at the time. “[She] was just trying to get home after a day’s work.”
Another hammer attack was reported in the second week of March. This time, a man was hit after getting into an argument with a suspect in a purple wig.
That attack occurred despite a jump in arrests made in the week after Adams’ safety plan announcement.
New York City police arrested 143 people in the city’s subways and removed 455 people from trains and stations in the first week of a crackdown on crime and the presence of homeless people in the transit system.
The arrests and removals came as officers were enforcing subway rules barring smoking, drinking, sleeping across train seats, behaving aggressively and riding without paying fares.
Police also issued 1,553 tickets for rule violations.
Ultimately, Adams said it would “take time” to stomp out violence and other crimes underground. He addressed the surge again in the wake of a retired NYPD officer being slashed while riding a No. 2 train in Manhattan.
“The system has turned into a place — come into the subway system and do whatever you want, and so people are pushing back on me. ‘There goes that mean po-po police officer Eric again.’ Eh, so what. Call me what you want. We’re gonna be safe. I’m like broccoli. You’re gonna hate me now, but you’re gonna love me later,” he said.
In an exclusive interview with PIX11 News on April 8, assault victim Wynter White said she’s “terrified” to ride the subway.
White was attacked on her birthday — April 6 — at the Fulton Street station. She spent the night in the hospital, eating cake in the emergency room with her beloved dog by her side.
She suffered a sprained wrist and injured leg after the attack, but said it could have been a lot worse. She credits her dog with saving her life — the pooch’s barks could have been a distraction that prevented an even worse attack.
“I am afraid,” she said. “I feel the need to call out of work, but I can’t because I need to pay my bills. I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”
The most chaotic and violent attack of the year unfolded Tuesday, less than two months removed from the city’s renewed commitment to safety underground.
Ten people were shot and another 13 were injured in the chaos when a man on a northbound train put on a gas mask, pulled out a canister and opened fire as smoke filled the train, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.
The incident was not being investigated as a terror attack, officials said. None of the victims’ injuries were described as life-threatening.