SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Months of social media rants by the sole suspect in a shooting spree aboard an N train in Brooklyn came to a head Tuesday morning when police believe 62-year-old Frank James popped a smoke canister and opened fire on subway riders.
The smoke, the injuries, the bloodshed — all etched into our minds. Another incident of what should have been a routine day for straphangers morphed into a frightening scene of chaos.
Dr. Janice Johnson-Dias, a professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, wondered just how much of this type of senseless violence New Yorkers could take.
“What came to mind was this was more like, without having been identified, as just another headline, that comes across my way that people are already breaking at the seams,” the professor said.
Christopher Hermann, an assistant law and police science professor put the shooting this way: “It’s the randomness, you know, that everybody’s a potential victim … When you hear cases like this, I think that’s what again invokes a lot of worry and fear in people.”
Clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, PhD, said for the injured and others directly involved, the physical and mental health journey was only just beginning.
“What we are looking at here is not only the trauma of being involved in the incident but also the trauma of the physical injuries; things that will no doubt affect their psychology,” Gardere told PIX11 News on Wednesday.
Gardere also noted that for subway riders citywide, the attack and other recent transit crimes have smashed the sense of safety underground, heaping trauma on top of trauma.
To cope, Gardere said New Yorkers should use empowerment strategies, like staying vigilant and helping others.
“Of course, helping other people by being an upstander, instead of just a bystander,” said Gardere. “That’s a great thing about our citizens and it’s the great thing about New Yorkers; that we do look out for one another … I think it will help us in being able to make the adjustment back into riding the subways because it is our lifeblood and something that is very important to us.”