A manhunt for the alleged gunman who opened fire on a Brooklyn subway car, shooting 10 people and sending dozens running in terror, was still underway hours after the train pulled into a Sunset Park station during rush hour Tuesday morning.
The gunman's identity has not been confirmed, but investigators are combing through videos and speaking to witnesses to piece together clues to help track him down.
They have identified a 62-year-old man as a person of interest in the case, who police said rented a U-Haul van connected to the attack and suspect, but NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said they weren't yet sure whether he had any link to the subway attack itself.
Police described the suspected shooter as a man about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 170 pounds, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt in addition to a green vest.
A van matching the police description with Arizona license plates was found just before 5 p.m. on Kings Highway in Gravesend, after a key to the van was found at the scene of the shooting. The vehicle was later searched and cleared, senior law enforcement sources said, as cops removed a table, chairs and memory foam pillows from inside.
The man who rented the van — person of interest Frank James — has ties to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to police. He was said to have past criminal records in those states, as well as ties to New York, law enforcement sources said.
Part of his criminal history included making "terroristic threats," according to sources, but investigators said the threats were similar to ones commonly made by those who are emotionally disturbed.
Authorities also were looking into social media posts and YoutTube videos by someone with the same name that mentioned homelessness, New York and Mayor Eric Adams, leading officials to tighten the mayor's security detail, police said. Videos that James is believed to have posted on YouTube show him ranting about violence. NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell called the online statements "concerning."
Officials said authorities zeroed in on James after the credit card used to rent the van, as well as a key to the van, were found at the shooting scene.
It appeared that James drove the rental van to New York from Pennsylvania on Monday, based on license plate reader data and other info, sources said. Investigators obtained video from 5 a.m. Tuesday near where the van was found parked, appearing to show a man matching the description of the subway attacker emerging from the van.
A senior law enforcement official said earlier in the day that police have an image of the man they believe to be the suspect, but were still working at the time to identify him. No suspect or person of interest, including James, were in police custody Tuesday evening.
Sewell said the suspect wore a gas mask, green construction mask and gray hooded sweatshirt when he opened fire at the 36th Street and Fourth Avenue station in Sunset Park around 8:30 a.m.
The MTA surveillance camera at the subway station was not working at the time of the shooting, three sources told NBC New York. MTA Chair Janno Lieber was later asked about the the camera not working properly but did not address the issue.
Sewell said at a press conference that a motivation for the attack was not immediately known.
“There are currently no known explosive devices on our subway trains and this is not being investigated as an act of terrorism at this time," Sewell said earlier in the day.
Cops believe the suspect acted alone. Police were combing through subway tunnels, based on some witness reports he may have jumped to the tracks, but the gunman remained on the loose Tuesday evening.
Law enforcement officials said a .9-mm semi-automatic handgun was recovered at the scene, along with a bag of smoke canisters and fireworks. A hatchet, two extra extended clips of ammo, a fuse and a spray bottle of gasoline were also found, police said.
One source told NBC New York that the gun the suspect used may have jammed, preventing worse tragedy. However, the shooter was able to fire at least 33 times inside the train car.
A total of 10 people were struck by gunfire, with five shooting victims said to have been critically wounded. Police said that an additional 13 people were hurt by falling, smoke inhalation or other injuries suffered during the panic after the shots were fired. The extent of the other victims' injuries wasn't clear.
A reward of $50,000 from police, the MTA and Transport Workers Union was being offered for information leading to an arrest and indictment of the shooter.
Photos posted to social media showed people bloodied on the platform, and Citizen app footage showed a heavy law enforcement presence at the scene.
Some of the wounded jumped on another train to flee to the next station, sources said.
The NYPD warned New Yorkers to avoid the area and to expect emergency vehicles and delays. Power was shut off on the N/R Line from 59 Street to Atlantic Avenue and major delays were reported on the B, D, F, N, Q and R lines. W service is suspended.
Local schools were placed under a shelter in place order, a Department of Education spokesperson said, but those orders were lifted for most schools not directly in the area by the mid-afternoon. It's not clear how many were affected.
The NYPD is leading the investigation. Federal investigators with ATF and HSI were also on the scene.
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