After the bullets flew, New York City subway workers remained calm State and region
NEW YORK – When smoke bombs and bullets were fired into a subway full of morning passengers as it crawled to a stop in Brooklyn, train driver David Artis could not hear the shots.
The first sign that something was wrong was that passengers crowded around the door of his operator’s cabin to report the chaos, one car back.
Artis said after a moment of shock, his thoughts quickly shifted from, “My God!” worry about your passengers. He relied on his emergency training.
“Then it started. Pull them out,” he said Friday after he and other transport workers were rewarded by the mayor for responding to Tuesday’s shooting.
Within minutes of the lightning decision, Artis and train conductor Raven Haynes announced the attack on the radio, opened the train door and evacuated all passengers to another train on the same platform, and then began assisting the wounded.
Photos and videos taken by the passengers recorded how the couple calmly but authoritatively drove the stunned passengers to the second train that ran.
“This week, New York has shown the world what our city has always been: courage, heroism, quick thinking and determination,” said Mayor Eric Adams.
Adams, who appeared at the town hall ceremony virtually because he is in isolation after receiving a positive test for COVID-19, on Friday invited workers to submit proclamations to honor them for their heroism.
The ceremony took place the day after the man responsible for the massacre, Frank James, initially appeared in court at the federal court building a few stops from the line where the attack took place.
Prosecutors say he dressed as a construction worker and fired smoke bombs, then pulled out a gun and fired 33 times, reloading once before his gun jammed.
Subway workers said in the midst of the chaos they did not see an armed man in the crowd and were focused on pulling people out.
“I shouted to people,‘ Get on the train! Get on the train! Get on the train! ”Artis said.
Haynes, a conductor, said she was not afraid because she had worked at the airport a few years ago before joining the capital’s transport service, and was already used to reacting to unpredictable situations.
“I can’t stress the importance of a stoic attitude in a time of chaos. Calm behavior helps your passengers stay calm, which helps them get out as safely and quickly as possible,” she said.
The victims of the shooting were between 16 and 60 years old. Most injuries were in the legs, back and buttocks. A 16-year-old boy was shot in the arm. They are all expected to survive.
As the injured passengers limped onto the platform, several knelt to help the wounded. One took off his shirt to create a harness for the one who shot him in the leg.
Artis said that when he checked the subway car to make sure it was empty, he found blood on the floor, luggage left by a gunman and shell casings, which he said he immediately informed transport operators to it was possible to call the police.
Haynes described the moment she filmed the scene, right after she sent the passengers to flee.
“Finally I looked down, to the front of the train, and saw the whole second car covered in smoke, along with the whole north side of the platform,” she said.
Investigators said in confusion James slipped out on the rescue train along with other passengers, getting out of one station down, throwing off the builder’s clothes and helmet.
He was arrested a day in Manhattan after a citywide hunt that ended shortly after he called police and reported the location.
In court on Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Sarah K. Winick said the deliberate, carefully planned attack on James “caused terror among the victims and our entire city.”
James was sentenced to prison without bail. At the request of James’ lawyers, Magistrate Roan Mann said she would ask James for “psychiatric help”.
Hurary Bencada, a passenger injured in the leg, said in an interview with the Associated Press that he was just feet away from the gunman.
Bencada said he was listening to music on headphones when the car started filling with smoke and he thought it was a small fire.
But the smoke “grew to black, black smoke like 9/11,” he said, “and the whole train was like tar.”
Bencada said he heard shots and screams and he was trying to protect the pregnant woman from being hit during the chaos, and as people moved forward, the shot hit his knee.
Investigators viewed dozens of videos that James posted on social media while they worked to determine the motive for the shooting. Videos include profanity about racism, society’s treatment of black people, homelessness and violence.
James, a native of New York, also discussed his history of psychiatric treatment and complained about how the mayor of New York deals with homeless people on the subway and with the use of weapons. He also spoke about the shooting of people, prosecutors said in court.
Investigators say James, who recently left Milwaukee and lived on a short-term lease in Philadelphia, rented a U-Haul van in Philadelphia and drove it to New York a few hours before the shooting.