NY City police name ‘person of interest’ in subway shooting

The scene above ground in the aftermath of the peak hour shooting.

The scene above ground in the aftermath of the peak hour shooting. Photo: Getty

New York City police have named the gunman who they believe set off two smoke bombs and opened fire on commuters on the city’s subway on Tuesday.

At least 20 people in the attack, which came at morning rush hour.

New York Police say that 62-year-old Frank James is a “person of interest” in the case. A $US50,000 ($67,000) reward has been posted for his capture.

Mr James, who has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin is believed to have acted alone and immediately fled the crime scene.

The attack unfolded as a Manhattan-bound subway train on the N line was pulling into an underground station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighbourhood.

Ten people were hit directly by gunfire, with five of those hospitalised in critical but stable condition, authorities said.

Police said 13 more people suffered from smoke inhalation or were otherwise injured in the chaos as panicked riders fled the smoke-filled subway car.

Some collapsed to the footpath as they poured onto the platform of the 36th Street station. The fire department said two of those hurt were treated at the scene.

All of the victims were expected to survive their injuries, police said.

At a briefing, New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell said a hired U-Haul van believed to be connected to the shooting was later located in Brooklyn, but the perpetrator remained at large several hours after the incident.

Investigators say Mr James rented the U-Haul vehicle in Philadelphia.

The subway assailant was described by police from eyewitness accounts as a man of heavy build, wearing an orange vest, a grey sweatshirt, a green helmet and surgical mask.

The commissioner said the attack began in the rail carriage as it was about to enter the station. The gunman removed two canisters from his bag and opened them, sending smoke throughout the carriage.

Police said the man then fired 33 rounds from a Glock nine-millimetre semi-automatic handgun. It was later recovered, along with three extended ammunition magazines, an axe, consumer-grade fireworks and a container of petrol.

“We are truly fortunate that was not significantly worse than it is,” Commissioner Sewell said.

He said earlier the shooting was not being immediately treated as an act of terrorism.

There was no known motive for the attack, but investigators found a number of social media posts linked to an individual named Frank James that mentioned homelessness and the New York City mayor, Commissioner Sewell said.

Mayor Eric Adams, who is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, issued a video statement thanking those who responded at the scene. He said all those who had been taken to hospital were expected to recover.

“Today is a dark day for New York,” Mr Adams said.

-with AAP

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