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A Brooklyn subway rider was disarmed before being shot by his own gun. Was the shooting done in self-defence?

A Brooklyn subway rider was disarmed before being shot by his own gun. Was the shooting done in self-defence?

A 36-year-old man is in critical condition after an altercation turned violent on a Brooklyn subway car, as he became a victim of his own gun.

The violence transpired after a 32-year-old man, who just entered a northbound A train in Brooklyn, was quickly approached by a 36-year-old man who was already on the train.

Witnesses described the 36-year-old as “aggressive and provocative” towards the new passenger, the New York Police Department’s chief of transit Michael Kemper said.

Words quickly devolved into violence.

Eventually, the older man’s gun was taken by the younger man, resulting in the 32-year-old shooting at the 36-year-old “multiple times,” striking him — including in the head, police said.

Here’s everything we know about the subway horror:

The incident

Around 4.45pm on Thursday 14 March, a 32-year-old man got on board a northbound A train.

He was approached by a 36-year-old man who was already onboard, who was allegedly acting “aggressive and provocative” toward him.

Somehow, a verbal altercation escalated into a physical one.

Police said the 36-year-old “displayed” either a knife or a razor blade – but then put it down.

Amid a fiery exchange of words, the 36-year-old removed a firearm from his jacket, Mr Kemper said.

He then walked towards the younger man “in a menacing way” while yelling at him and it became physical again between the two men, the chief of transit added.

“During this physical confrontation, that gun, we believe, was removed from the 36-year-old by the 32-year-old” and he fired “multiple shots” at the older man, striking him,” he said.

The 36-year-old was shot twice in the right side of the face, once in the neck and once in the chest, ABC7 reported.

Gunfire broke out when the train neared the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station, Mr Kemper said. Police stationed at the platform heard the gunshots and responded, he added.

Police say that this is the small caliber firearm they recovered from the scene (New York Police Department)
Police say that this is the small caliber firearm they recovered from the scene (New York Police Department)

More details revealed

At a second press conference, police revealed that video footage had captured a woman – who was believed to be travelling with the 32-year-old man – appearing to cut the 36-year-old man with a sharp object during the altercation.

Video footage circulating online appears to show a woman hovering near the two men as they fought. She then allegedly pulled a sharp object from her purse and stabbed the aggressor, police said.

At one point, the 36-year-old is heard asking “Did you stab me?” before appearing to pull a gun from his jacket and saying, “You stabbed me?”

The investigation is still ongoing.

Later on Friday, NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said that police received a video that showed the 36-year-old “did not pay his fare” when he entered the Nostrand Avenue station in Brooklyn just 10 minutes before the incident transpired.

Rattled train passengers

Other passengers in the car went unharmed, Mr Kemper said.

Footage posted online shows a packed car filled with terrified passengers ducking for their lives.

“As I’m coming out, you hear pops like three or four shots. Pop, pop, pop. Then the doors open. Everybody come flying out,” a passenger told ABC7.

“I don’t think I was going to make it back home. I was next to everything like just like you are in front of me. That’s where I was,” another commuter told the outlet.

An ABC journalist, who was on the A train, took harrowing videos of the incident that captured a sea of passengers crouching down in the crowded car as officers on the platform flocked to the scene.

Someone can be heard yelling: “Close the door! Close the door!”

On Friday, Janno Lieber, the chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said it is “absolutely outrageous” that someone would bring a gun onto the subway and start a fight.

“The victim here, the police said, appears to be the aggressor. But the real victims are the people I saw in those videos who were having a harrowing time because they’re on a train with somebody with a gun,” Mr Lieber said.

New York Gov Kathy Hochul issued a statement following the incident, saying, “Like all New Yorkers, I’m horrified by yesterday’s shooting on the A Train. No subway rider should commute in fear that they’ll be the victim of a shooting or slashing – and we’re taking coordinated action to keep straphangers safe.”

The governor added, “The only way to solve the recent spike in subway crime is to collaborate across all levels of government. Working together with Mayor Adams, police, prosecutors and transit officials, we’ll make sure every New Yorker is protected.”

A statement from New York City Mayor Eric Adams also said, “As a former transit officer, I know that subway safety is public safety and bringing the entire criminal justice system to the table will only enhance our efforts to keep people safe. Crime is down across the city, but our subway system is the key for millions of New Yorkers to get to work, school, and see loved ones.”

“We must do everything we can to make sure they feel safe,” the statement continued.

What we know about the parties involved

Police have not yet publicly identified the two men or the woman allegedly involved.

Mr Maddrey said that he could not confirm that the 36-year-old had any prior criminal history on Friday afternoon because the investigation is ongoing.

It’s unclear whether any of the parties knew one another before the incident, but police said they don’t believe so.

The 36-year-old was found with a gunshot wound to his head, authorities said, and was in critical condition as of Thursday evening.

He was transported to New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital where he underwent surgery.

The 32-year-old was being held with detectives and the firearm was recovered from the scene.

It’s unclear what charges he faces, if any. Mr Kemper said it is yet “to be determined” whether charge will be brought against the 32-year-old or whether the situation will be characterised as him acting in self-defence.

A spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office told The Independent in a 15 March statement: “Yesterday’s shooting inside a crowded subway car was shocking and deeply upsetting. The investigation into this tragic incident is ongoing but, at this stage, evidence of self-defense precludes us from filing any criminal charges against the shooter.”

It’s also not immediately clear whether any charges will be brought against the woman who allegedly stabbed the 36-year-old.

A decrease in NYC shootings

Just last week, the NYPD announced a 15.4 per cent crime drop on the subway in February compared to a year ago.

NYPD attributed the decrease in transit crime to its decision to increase the number of law enforcement officers — 1,000 police officers per day — to the subway system.

On top of this, Ms Hochul recently announced that 750 National Guard members within the transport network would be deployed to assist the police, saying it would deter crime on the subway system and that their presence would make passengers feel safer.

Still, the last few months have seen headline-making subway shootings. In January, a man was fatally shot while trying to break up a fight among two other passengers on a Manhattan subway train.

In February, another shooting erupted at Mount Eden Avenue subway station in the Bronx, killing one and injuring five others. The NYPD remarked that the shooter was now its “most wanted.”

Also in February, a 45-year-old man was shot and killed while riding the southbound D train near 182-183 Street station in the Bronx.

After the 14 March incident, police emphasised on Friday that this was just one incident among the “millions and millions” of people that rode the subway on that day.