Man shot in the NYC subway attack says he was sitting next to the gunman before he opened fire

·3 min read
Brooklyn Subway Shooting
Law enforcement gather near the entrance to a subway stop in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.AP Photo/Kevin Hagen
  • A victim of the Brooklyn subway shooting said he was sitting next to the shooter.

  • He said he was shot in the back of the leg while trying to help a pregnant woman.

  • Police said the suspect fired at least 33 times, hitting 10 people in the incident.

A victim of the mass shooting in Brooklyn, New York, said he was sitting next to the gunman on the subway before he opened fire on the train passengers.

Hourari Benkada told CNN he was sitting next to the shooter before being wounded in the leg during the attack on Tuesday. Benkada said he wasn't paying much attention to his surroundings and didn't realize the man sitting next to him was a threat until the smoke bombs were released.

"All you see is smoke, black smoke bomb going off, and then people bum rushing to the back," Benkada said.

Around 8:30 a.m. local time a man detonated two smoke bombs on the N train in Brooklyn and proceeded to open fire on the train passengers as the train pulled into the 36th street station in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, authorities said.

Police said the suspect fired at least 33 times, hitting 10 people in the incident. More than a dozen people were injured in the panic that ensued, and some were treated for smoke inhalation.

"This pregnant woman was in front of me," he continued. "I was trying to help her."

"I didn't know there were shots at first, I just thought it was a black smoke bomb. She said, 'I'm pregnant with a baby.' I hugged her, and then the bum rush continued. I got pushed, and that's when I got shot in the back of my knee."

Benkada said he was not sure if Frank James, the sole suspect in the case, was the man sitting next to him because he had a mask on and did not get a good look at his face. Benkada said that the man next to him was wearing a gray hoodie and an MTA vest.

"I just had my headphones in my ears, my phone in my hand, minding my own business, my head down, sitting down," Benkada said. "But this makes me not want to ride a train ever in my life."

Benkada noted that the time between the 59th street and 36th street stops is usually about two minutes long, but on Tuesday, it took about four minutes to get from one stop to the other. He said the shooting went on for about one minute before the train doors finally opened at the station.

"I was shocked, I am still shocked, I am shaking," he said. "I don't think I can ride a train ever again, to be honest."

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