Tuesday's shooting at a Brooklyn subway station is among very few incidents of mass violence in the NYC subway's 116-year history.
Although law enforcement officials for years have warned straphangers to be aware of their surroundings — particularly in the months after 9/11 and after a failed pipe bomb attack in a city subway tunnel — actual incidents have been extremely rare.
The subways have been the target of other violent attacks, most notably bombing attempts: In 2017, a man wearing a pipe bomb detonated the explosive in the tunnel connecting Times Square and the Port Authority subway stations, injuring himself and another person.
Three men were convicted of plotting to bomb Times Square and to commit mass shootings on the subway in 2016. In 2009, another man was convicted on charges of plotting to bomb the subway system on the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
After the 9/11 attacks, and other overseas terror attacks, New York City has increased police presence across the five boroughs, in subway stations and even overseas. After the 2005 London Underground bombing, which saw 52 fatalities, the police started to conduct “random” searches of subway riders’ bags, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg argued that’s why the city needed more surveillance cameras around the city.
When subway crime was at near-record levels in the 1980s, Bernhard Goetz, a white man, shot four Black teenagers on a 2 train in 1983. Goetz, who claimed they were bothering him for $5, was acquitted, but the shooting was targeted.
Other major incidents in the subway system include a man setting off a homemade bomb in a Hellman’s mayonnaise jar on the 4 train as it pulled into Fulton station, injuring more than 40 people in 1994, and the March 2020 arson on a 2 train, which killed an MTA worker and injured 16 others.
On the commuter rails, in 1993, a gunman killed six people and injured 19 others aboard a Long Island Rail Road train heading from Queens to Nassau County.
After a 30-hour manhunt, police arrested the Sunset Park subway shooting suspect in the East Village on Wednesday. Frank James, 62, authorities say, wore a gas mask and detonated a smoke device aboard the train before firing a 9-millimeter Glock 33 times on the Manhattan-bound N train. At least 30 people were hospitalized, including 10 who suffered gunshot wounds.
Mayor Eric Adams confirmed that he would increase the numbers of police officers, which have already been boosted to address other subway crime and homelessness.