At least 16 people have been injured during a shooting incident at a subway station in the US' New York City borough of Brooklyn, on Tuesday, authorities said.
Ambulances lined the street outside the 36th Street subway station, where a New York police spokeswoman told AFP officers responded to a 911 call of a person shot at 8:27 am (1227 GMT).
The incident sparked a massive police response, with the suspect still at large several hours later. Authorities have urged witnesses to come forward in order to help identify the suspect.
According to multiple media reports, police were hunting for a man in a gas mask and orange construction vest, who NBC said may have tossed a smoke canister before the shooting.
Photos and videos from the scene showed people tending to bloodied passengers lying on the floor of the station and the air filled with smoke.
Several people were shot at in a subway in New York's Brooklyn today. Unexploded devices found at the site.
— DD India (@DDIndialive) April 12, 2022
Fire and police officials were investigating reports that there had been an explosion, but the police department tweeted that there were “no active explosive devices at this time.”
Multiple smoke devices were found on the scene, mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy, who confirmed the initial shooting injury count, said.
Witnesses describe horrific scenes
The incident began as the train was "inching" towards the 36th Street platform, one passenger, Yav Montano, told CNN. He said smoke began filling the car he was in.
"There's a lot of blood on the floor," he said. "In the moment, I did not think that it was a shooting because it sounded like fireworks."
Passengers crowded towards the front of the car, Montano said, but the door to the next car was locked.
"There were people in that other car that saw what was happening. And they tried to open the door, but they couldn't," he said.
“My subway door opened into calamity. It was smoke and blood and people screaming,” eyewitness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS, saying he saw a giant billow of smoke pouring out of the N train once the door opened.
A bystander video shows people lying on the subway platform amid what appeared to be small puddles of blood, as a loudspeaker announcement told everyone on the smoke-hazy platform to get on a train. Inside a subway car, a person lay on the floor, encircled by others. Outside the station, a police officer yelled, “Let’s go! Get out of the way!”
My neighborhood in #Brooklyn being turned inside out looking for a perp. Poor Pinkman (our doggo) is freaking out. #NYC #SunsetPark #shooting pic.twitter.com/q0jINMULuZ — Eamon Loingsigh (@eamonLoi) April 12, 2022
Meanwhile, the White House said president Joe Biden had been briefed on the incident and was in communication with New York officials.
New York governor Kathy Hochul earlier tweeted first responders were on the scene and promised regular updates as the investigation unfolds.
Indian Consulate monitoring the situation
The Consulate General of India in New York tweeted that it was in touch with the local authorities in Brooklyn.
Deeply disturbed by horrific shooting in Brooklyn today. We are in touch with local authorities. Our prayers and thoughts with those injured.@NYCMayor @MEAIndia — India in New York (@IndiainNewYork) April 12, 2022
Trains servicing that station were delayed during the morning rush hour.
The incident happened on a subway line that runs through south Brooklyn in a neighborhood — predominantly home to Hispanic and Asian communities — about a 15-minute train ride to Manhattan. Local schools, including Sunset Park High School across the street, were locked down.
Mass shootings in US
Mass casualty shootings happen with relative frequency in the United States, where firearms are involved in approximately 40,000 deaths a year, including suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.
Shootings in New York City have risen this year, and the uptick in violent gun crime has been a central focus for Mayor Eric Adams since he took office in January. Through 3 April, shooting incidents rose to 296 from 260 during the same period last year, according to police statistics.
The incident came just a day after Biden announced new gun control measures, increasing restrictions on so-called "ghost guns", the difficult-to-trace weapons that can be assembled at home.
Lax gun laws and a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms have repeatedly stymied attempts to clamp down on the number of weapons in circulation, despite greater controls being favored by the majority of Americans.
Three-quarters of all homicides in the United States are committed with guns, and the number of pistols, revolvers and other firearms sold continues to rise.
With inputs from agencies