Multiple people were shot inside a Brooklyn subway station where authorities found “several undetonated devices” on Tuesday morning.
Police responded to the 36th Street station in the Sunset Park neighbourhood at about 8.30am after receiving reports of smoke inside the station.
At least eight people sustained gunshots and eight others injured have been taken to hospitals, officials said at a press conference, noting that no one appeared to have life-threatening injuries.
As of 12pm no arrests have been named as authorities were said to be searching for a man wearing a gas mask and an orange construction vest.
The NYPD issued a description of the suspected gunman as a Black male about 5’5”, 180 pounds and wearing a gray sweatshirt.
Officials said the attack began as an N train was waiting to enter the 36th Street station when a man donned a gas mask and deployed gas from a canister before opening fire inside the train and on the platform.
Graphic photos posted to Twitter showed injured commuters covered in blood.
Witness Roddy Broke tweeted: “Either shots or a bomb went off at 36th Street. Scariest moment of my life, man.”
A video posted to Twitter showed terrified commuters getting off a subway car as it pulls into the 25th St station with smoke billowing from the carriage. Several appear overcome with smoke inhalation.
Among the people caught up in the mayhem was Brooklyn resident Danny Mastrogiorgio, whose four-year-old son goes to school near the 36th Street station.
The Independent spoke to Mr Mastrogiorgio as he stood in the crowd gathered behind police tape on 24th street shortly after the attack.
“I saw people running up the stairs, running down the street. A guy from the MTA came out waving his arms, trying to get the cops to come down,” Mr Mastrogiorgio said.
“Eventually a bunch of ambulances pulled up. I saw them take one guy with a leg wound. They had him in the middle of the street there before the ambulance got him.
“It’s disturbing. I got a four-year-old boy I dropped off down the street. I just got off the train. We take this train every day. I would have been on the train with him.”
“I’m a lifelong New Yorker, I tend not to over react to crime things, but it’s bad.”
Mr Mastrogiorgio added that his son’s school has gone into lockdown, like many others in the area.
Another witness at the scene, 15-year-old John Butsikares, described utter confusion on the train.
“Everyone was told to evacuate at 25th Street. It was all crowded. People didn’t know what was going on. It was just a scary moment,” Mr Butsikares told The Independent.
“The conductor was telling everyone to evacuate, asking for medical assistance. I didn’t know what had happened at first but after I found out it was pretty scary.”
The student at Brooklyn Tech added: “I’m definitely a little more scared now. People always tell me to be careful on the subway, but I’ve never actually experienced anything. Now that I have, it’s pretty scary.”
Juliana Fonda, a broadcast engineer at WNYC, told the Gothamist she heard shots fired from one car over while riding the N train.
“People were pounding and looking behind them, running, trying to get on to the train,” Ms Fonda said.
“The door locked between cars and the people behind us, there were a lot of loud pops and there was smoke in the other car.”
Another commuter told the news site that 36th St station was filled with smoke as subway riders tried to evacuate.
“There was blood everywhere,” the commuter, who gave her first name Joana, said.
“Everybody’s just running out because they thought they were next.”
Few confirmed details have been given about the “undetonated devices” found at the station, but the NYPD said none of them were “active” amid unverified social media reports that an explosion may have gone off.
Police said the incident is not currently being investigated as an act of terrorism.
Train service on the D, N and R lines, which pass through the 36th Street station, has been disrupted during an investigation.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority posted a service alert about the “incident” but did not provide any additional details.
The agency said the B, F and Q lines would also face “major delays”.
Police have directed the public to steer clear of the area around 36th Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden was briefed on the latest developments and the White House was in touch with Mayor Eric Adams and the police commissioner.
Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Mr Adams, asked for New Yorkers to stay away from this area for their safety.
This story will be updated as more information emerges.