Riders return to New York subways – some nervous, some undeterred, many wanting more security

·4 min read

NEW YORK – Riders returned to the nation's busiest subway system Wednesday, some with jangled nerves, others undaunted, one day after gunfire erupted on a train outside the Sunset Park Station in Brooklyn.

Some riders at Sunset Park said they were grateful for a bigger police presence a day after the shooting that injured dozens – and they hoped it would continue.

Anna Santana, who lives in the neighborhood and regularly commutes to Brooklyn Heights to work as a health aide, bought a ticket Wednesday afternoon.

Santana said she was thankful her son took the 8 a.m. train Tuesday, narrowly missing the gunman.

“If he had been late, who knows what would have happened?” she said. “I hope the police will continue to be here.”

Monica Garama, who comes to Sunset Park from her home in Queens every day to clean offices, said she missed the mayhem because of a bad shoulder.

“I took a day off because I was in so much pain,” she said. “I am so happy I did. We need more security around here.”

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Monica Garama missed the chaotic shooting Tuesday because her shoulder was injured.
Monica Garama missed the chaotic shooting Tuesday because her shoulder was injured.

At Hudson Yards in Manhattan, close to popular tourist destinations the Vessel and High Line, a steady stream of riders exited the 7 train in the morning, some lamenting the lack of a noticeable police presence at that station.

Jasimna Mohmoud, who runs a vegetarian halal cart outside the 7 station at Hudson Yards and lives in New Jersey, was so worried about the incident that she asked her sister, who lives in Brooklyn and helps her with the food cart, to stay home Wednesday.

“It is so scary,” she said.

She said the city should invest in smart scanning machines for weapons.

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“They check for tickets here but not for knives and guns,” she said. “Don’t make it a nuisance by scanning for coins, but invest in machines like they have in Singapore.”

Others said Tuesday's shooting has not deterred them from taking public transit. Len Burton, who was visiting New York City with his wife and two children, said he was not worried about taking the trains.

“It was a one-off incident by a lunatic,” said Burton, from Redding, Pennsylvania. “We knew about the incident yesterday, but we went all over the city riding the subway.”

Len Burton from Redding, Pa., says he isn't worried about riding the subway after a gunman injured dozens at a Brooklyn stop.
Len Burton from Redding, Pa., says he isn't worried about riding the subway after a gunman injured dozens at a Brooklyn stop.

About 3 million people ride the subway each day in New York, about half of pre-pandemic levels, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority data.

The city's sprawling subway system has seen increased crime. Transit crime is 68% higher this year compared with the same period in 2021, police statistics show.

Mayor Eric Adams released a subway safety plan this year focusing on the untreated mental health needs of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.

The plan, which was criticized by some homelessness and mental health advocates, called for an increased police presence and a mandate to enforce the system's often-ignored code of conduct, such as fining people who smoke, litter, evade fares and take up multiple seats.

In a YouTube video dated Feb. 20, the man arrested in Tuesday's incident, Frank James, said the plan “is doomed for failure” and referred to himself as a “victim” of the mayor’s mental health program.

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The plan was announced after six people were stabbed over three days in February, according to the New York City Police Department. Michelle Alyssa Go was pushed to her death in front of a subway train in January by a suspect who was experiencing homelessness.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last fall that it put security cameras in all 472 subway stations, saying they would put criminals on an “express track to justice.” Tuesday's shooting may have shown cracks in the city's safety efforts.

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said Wednesday that there was a problem with a security camera server at the 36th Street subway station where the train stopped before the attack, meaning the camera wasn't sending images to the NYPD.

Adams told CNN the city would double the number of transit police on patrol in the wake of Tuesday's shooting. The New York Times reported officers had been inside the station several times before the incident but not when the shooting began.

Elsa Forero, 74, of Tacoma, Washington, said she’s not scared and plans to take the trains for the rest of her visit. But she wished there was more of a police presence.

“It would just make everyone feel safer,” she said.

Elsa Forero said she plans to take the trains for the rest of her visit to New York from Tacoma, Wash.
Elsa Forero said she plans to take the trains for the rest of her visit to New York from Tacoma, Wash.

GRAPHICS AND MAPS: How the Brooklyn subway shooting unfolded

Contributing: Christal Hayes and Kevin Johnson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NYC subway riders want more security, police after Brooklyn shooting