As the alleged gunman believed to be responsible for the deadly and random shooting of a rider on the Q train Sunday morning is now facing charges, the man he dumped the gun onto after pulling the trigger is sharing what he experienced for the first time.
The homeless man, who did not wish to be identified, told NBC New York that he was at the top of the stairs leading into the station near the corner of Canal Street and Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan around noon, when he first encountered alleged shooter Andrew Abdullah.
"Right now, I'm shook right now," he said.
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He told News 4 that Abdullah didn't say a word to him, just simply "took out a gun right there, boom, and he took off."
Instead of giving the panhandler some money, Abdullah dumped the gun right into his plastic cup, the man said.
"All of a sudden, he put his hands inside his jacket, lifts up, bam — right there," he said. "Right inside the cup, I'm scared."
The man said he panicked and wrapped the gun up in a jacket before taking off, until a friend told him about the Q train shooting.
"Shocked, confused, I thought 'What am I gonna do?" he said.
He eventually turned the gun over to police, who questioned him. The gun, which police said was stolen out of Virginia in 2019, was a ballistics match to the .9-mm shell casing found on the train.
Abdullah faces murder and weapon possession charges for allegedly opening fire at 48-year-old Daniel Enriquez at random, killing him as the train moved over the Manhattan Bridge in what officials describe as a harrowing, unprovoked act of violence. Witnesses on Sunday saw a man pacing the last car of a northbound Q line train heading from Brooklyn to Manhattan, muttering to himself, police said. The only words witnesses could make out: "No phones."
They said he then opened fire "without provocation" as the train passed over the bridge around 11:45 a.m.
At a press conference Tuesday evening, police said the motive for the unprovoked attack remains "a big mystery." Abdullah "targeted this poor individual for reasons we don’t know,” said Chief of Detectives James Essig.
About a block and a half away from the station where he tried to dump the gun on the homeless man, officers stopped Abdullah and asked him what he was doing, Essig said. But he wasn't wearing the black hoodie mentioned in the initial suspect description, and he had a backpack that hadn't been mentioned. Officers let him leave but took down his name.
Only later, when viewing surveillance video, did police realize that the gunman had removed the sweatshirt after the shooting, Essig said.
Police said that Abdullah, a gang member, has a lengthy criminal record stretching back to 2016, including charges of felony assault, robbery, attempted murder and a still-open gun charge from two years ago.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell called the slaying "every New Yorker's worst nightmare."