Gov. Kathy Hochul honored 18 MTA workers on Wednesday for their heroism in responding to the terrorist attack on an N train in Sunset Park earlier this month.
The dozen-and-a-half valorous transit employees received official commendations from the state and the MTA for their decisive actions during the attack, where an assailant fired 33 rounds and set off smoke grenades on a crowded train during rush hour, injuring dozens of straphangers. Honorees included the train operators whose quick thinking ensured a timely evacuation, communications officials who quickly provided valuable guidance to the public, and station managers, yard workers, and cleaners who rushed to the scene.
“You showed true grit and courage like only New Yorkers again,” the governor said at the MTA board on Wednesday, the first time a sitting governor has ever attended the transit authority’s monthly board meeting. “And that is why we come here to show appreciation for what you had to endure. The images that you saw and experienced I’m sure are seared in your minds. No one ever expects to see bloodstained platforms or people on the ground with wounds. That was not what you expected, but you reacted like professionals and you made us all so very proud.”
Hundreds of Brooklynites’ morning commutes were violently interrupted the morning of April 12, when a shooter, alleged by police and prosecutors to be 62-year-old Frank R. James, opened fire as an N train pulled into the 36th Street station, injuring 29 people, including 10 with gunshot wounds. Thankfully no one was killed, thanks to the quick thinking of the crews operating the local and express trains then in the station; N train operators David Artis and Raven Haynes hastily directed riders to evacuate onto the R local train on the opposite platform.
Haynes said she quickly thought to make an announcement on the PA system for riders on the R train not to board her N train. She said she didn’t realize how grievous the situation was until after it had all unfolded.
“No amount of training could prepare you for an incident like that,” Haynes told reporters. “You really just have to do your job to the best of your ability and hope that your quick thinking and basic common sense would help get people to safety.”
While the R train evacuation helped ensure everyone escaped to safety, it was also how James made his escape from the scene of his grisly crime. After shedding his construction worker disguise, James boarded the R train with the crowd and got off at the next stop, 25th Street, and was on the loose for more than a day before finally being apprehended by authorities; he has been charged with terrorism and is currently locked up without bail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, near the scene of the crime.
James’ escape was aided by the fact that surveillance cameras were not operational in either the 36th Street or 25th Street stations at the time of his rampage.