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tv   Nightline  ABC  April 13, 2022 12:37am-1:06am PDT

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tonight, closing in. the urgent manhunt after a mass shooting inside a crowded new york city subway. shattering the morning commute. >> i saw a lot of people coming out of the train station. one of them was injured. i believe it was a lady, getting shot right in her leg. >> as authorities name a person of interest in the investigation. >> we are looking for frank james. we know he rented this u-haul van. >> the arsenal recovered at the scene. new clues tonight on social media. >> i am driving, i am driving, i am driving. >> plus inside the diverse community left shaken by today's act of violence as several crime. n cities face surging - >> the police are way out of this situation, this is much
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bigger. we need to address the root causes of violence. >> this special edition of "nightline," "rush hour attack," will be right back.
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♪ good evening. thank you for joining us. we begin tonight with the dragnet across new york city as authorities officially named a person of interest in the mass
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shooting that targeted a crowded subway during rush hour this morning. ten people were shot and several others injured in the chaos, but the gunman got away. now authorities are searching for him and his motive. abc's janai norman is in brooklyn. >> reporter: there is still quite a police presence here. you can see the flashing lights, the yellow tape. there are barricades still blocking the 36th street subway station where this all unfolded, leaving ten people shot and more than a dozen others injured. police say this could have been so much worse. at the scene down in that subway sation, finding the shooter's backpack along with two smoke grenades and two more undetonated gas canisters. they say they found gasoline, a bag of fireworks along with a glock 17 9-millimeter handgun and three extended magazines, one in the backpack, one under a subway seat, one still in that weapon that officers believe jammed after the shooter fired 33 times.
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>> it all happened all at once. as soon as the smoke went on, about 15 seconds after, that's when i started to hear the popping. >> reporter: it's a new yorker's worst nightmare, a mass shooting on the subway. the lifeline for millions in america's largest city. >> i saw people with blood all over their clothes, i saw people literally on top of each other, crowding over each other, trying to get out of the way, trying to get -- not be seen. people just panicking. >> reporter: in the middle of rush hour this morning, a man released a smoke bomb, then opened fire in a train car in brooklyn, firing 33 times in the confined space. >> 36th street and fourth avenue, multiple people shot. >> reporter: even worse, the shooter still at large. the police have named 62-year-old frank james as a person of interest in the investigation. law enforcement officials studying a number of social
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media posts tied to james. >> i am driving, i am driving, i am driving. because i started my trip early. >> reporter: police honing in on james after a key to a u-haul he rented in philadelphia was recovered from the scene. there's a $50,000 reward offered to find him. >> i wasn't aware it happened, but i was a few cars down. and the train conductor told everyone to get on the train. and i was just -- i was scared. >> i saw a lot of people coming out of the train station. one of them was injured. i believe it was a lady getting shot right in her leg. >> this apparently is a shooter that wanted to potentially inflict maximum damage, because he did it during the rush hour. and he also picked the subway system, because people are confined into either a platform or inside an actual rail car. >> reporter: incredibly there were no fatalities. the magazine in the shooter's
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gun seems to have jammed, which police say helped save lives. >> if you don't know what you're doing, if you don't know how to shoot properly, it can jam up on you. if you don't know what to do, don't ka fe how to unjam it quickly. it sounded like he was going to keep going, he had all those magazines. >> reporter: 29 people were treated at nearby hospitals, 10 with gunshot wounds, 5 in critical condition, others suffering smoke inhalation and other injuries. >> we are truly fortunate that this was not significantly worse than it is. >> reporter: the shooting comes at a time as major cities across the nation are grappling with a spike in violence. in new york, overall crime rising more than 36% from this time last year as commuting returns to prepandemic levels. as a manhattan-bound "n" train waited to enter the 36th street station in brooklyn, the shooter was seen wearing a green construction vest, mumbling to himself. he then put on a gas mask, took
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a canister out of a bag, and opened it. smoke began to fill the train car. this video shot by one of the passengers. then the shooter opened fire. as the train pulls into the 36th street subway station, passengers spill out of one car, along with billowing smoke, running for safety. one passenger hopping out of the car, then collapsing to the ground. inside the car, one passenger seeming to help an injured person on the floor. another passenger on the platform trailing blood. >> i dropped my bag and i take out a windbreaker, essentially making a makeshift tourniquet for one of the injured parties, one of the victims. and others were using their sweaters, they were using their belts, anything that could be tied tight around somebody's limb. >> reporter: it's not long before dozens of police officers
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descend on the scene. >> we saw an ambulance coming out with a stretcher, with a person on it. their leg was injured. >> reporter: amid the chaos, the suspect flees, launching a now day-long manhunt. schools in the area going on lockdown. terrified parents running to see if their children were safe. >> what goes through your mind, knowing your son was riding the train to school right around the time this happened? >> oh, scary. ten minutes ago, he's on the train. every day i take a train. my son, he takes the train. my daughter, she takes the train. >> reporter: shortly after noon, nypd asked the public for tips as the shooter is still at large. >> at this time we are working with our federal partners, but we're asking for the public's help. anyone with information, videos, or photographs, no matter how insignificant they think it may be, is encouraged to call crime stoppers at 800-577-tips. >> reporter: new york governor kathy hochul calling for an end
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to gun violence. >> no more mass shootings, no more disrupting lives. it has to end, it ends now. we are sick and tired of reading headlines about crime. >> reporter: new york polic issue a city-wide alert for a u-haul believed to be associated with the suspect. then nypd descended on a u-haul parked in brooklyn. the vehicle rented using a credit card found at the crime scene. the incident is not currently being investigated as an act of terrorism. hampering the investigation, there were no working cameras in the 36th street station. police instead relying on a bystander's cell phone video as well as tips from the public. >> i think it's imperative that we have a camera system throughout the city. especially ones owned by the government, government agencies, that they're properly checked and ready to go. when you have these glitches in the system, it could affect you in a big spot, which it did today. but it's not something you can't
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overcome. >> reporter: law enforcement found a 9-millimeter glock semiautomatic handgun with three extended round magazines, a hatchet, and gasoline. two undetonated smoke grenades and a bag of commercial-grade fireworks were also recovered from the scene. there were no active explosive devices found on subway trains. >> he panicked and left that bag there. helped us immeasurably in getting to where we are right now in this accelerated investigation, where we are. >> you want to be realistic and outspoken about my commitment to protecting public safety, i stand by that and will continue to do anything in my power to dam the river and sea of reportr eric adams delivering updates via video as he remains in isolation due to having covid. >> this is not only a new york city problem. these relentless shooters are an american problem. >> reporter: the former police officer making combating gun violence a top priority.
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but his first 100 days in office marked by an increase in crime across almost every category, including transit crimes, which went up 73% in the first three months of 2022 compared with the same time last year. >> our message to the mayor is, you can't police your way out of this situation. this is much bigger. we need to address the root causes of violence. >> reporter: the mass shooting occurring in the sunset park neighborhood, known for its diversity, with more than half of its demographic asian or hispanic. councilwoman alexa avilas represents the area. >> we are a working-class community, we're not driving in limousines, we don't have drivers. we need a subway people feel safe to be in to get us to and from work, to get our kids to schools, to do the things that we need to do as new yorkers. my hope for this community is that we band together, we support each other, and that we make sure that our city operates
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for us and we have the things that we need. >> our thanks to janai. coming up next, several cities report a rise if crime. what can police do to keep citizens safe? are you tired of washing dishes? well flip the way you clean'em. introducing dawn platinum ez-squeeze. it's a new, upside-down bottle... with no cap. you just grab and squeeze. platinum's upgraded, more powerful formula breaks down and removes grease 4 times faster. nice! no flip, no mess. platinum is also a go-to grease cleaner for your sink, your countertops, and to pre-treat stains on laundry. faster. easier. new dawn platinum ez-squeeze. flip the way you clean dishes. [♪] if you have diabetes, it's important to have confidence in the nutritional drink you choose. try boost glucose control®. it's clinically shown to help manage blood sugar levels and contains high quality protein to help manage hunger and support muscle health.
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♪ new york city is among several major cities reporting an increase in violent crime. earlier i spoke with brian o'hara, director of public safety for newark, new jersey, and rich frankel, former special agent in charge of the fbi's new york joint terrorism task force.
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brian, i'd like to start with you. you see an incident like this. what goes through your mind as a public safety director of a large urban city? >> absolutely, it's obviously an incredibly devastating incident from the moment we started to hear about it. i just have to say, our hearts go out to all those folks who were affected. because just like here in newark, you know, those people are living in a community that's already affected with incredibly difficult levels of gun violence. we've had folks at home, folks in communities that have already historically been dealing with incredible challenges, made that much worse by the pandemic. the lack of resources available for young people, folks with mental illness, increasing number of illegal firearms on the street. particularly guns in the hands of people who should not have them. so obviously we're concerned about all of those issues. then also stepping up our own patrols, visible and invisible efforts to ensure that we're securing transit and other potential targets in our city.
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because obviously we don't know if this is the beginning of several other coordinated attacks. so it's a number of things that we immediately acted upon in partnership with our federal, state, and local partners to ensure our community is protected from any potential other acts here. >> rich, you've worked in the joint terrorism task force. law enforcement tonight released a photo in the name of someone they're calling a person of interest. what steps are law enforcement taking right now to track this person down? >> specifically going to the locations where this person has lived in the past, worked in the past, talking to people that he's associated with in the past to find out more about the individual. find out more about the motives that may have been involved. they're going to be looking for others in the sense of, until they know this person is, in fact, the suspect, they are not
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going to rest and just say that he is. they're going to continue to look for him, they're going to use a lot of resources for that. there are going to be additional resources gathering intelligence information, trying to make sure that either this is the right individual, or if it's not, who is the right individual? >> law enforcement will not have tunnel vision until the suspect or suspects are in jail. this happened on the subway, during rush hour, people trying to go about their day. how do you keep the public feeling calm and safe when understandably many will be on edge? >> obviously we need a true partnership with the public in order to do that. if we're just initially creating relationships with the public around a crime scene tape, that's not going to work. so that's why we've had a strong emphasis the last several years with establishing viable, productive relationships with persons who are active in our community in order to have those connections, because we need the public's help in order to do
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this. we need the public to tell us who's doing things in the community, who's acting suspiciously, if they see something, say something. in order for us to proactively address these problems. >> rich, police say this looks to be a coordinated attack. why have they said that and they're not currently investigating this as a terror attack? what kind of information might lead them to change that assessment? >> it was not a spur of the moment. this was preplanned. he got the fireworks, he got the smoke bomb. he had all these items, including a gun with three 16-round magazines, plus the gas mask that he put on when he lit off the smoke bomb. that's why it is coordinated. what's going to make it into a terrorism case, possibly, is through their intelligence-gathering or when they find him and speak to him, if he does speak to law enforcement, it's to find out what his ideological reason for this was. it's all going to go into what the reason is, what the motive
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was for him to have done this. once they've got that, then they're going to be able to determine whether this is an act of terrorism or a violent active shooter that caused mass casual tiz. >> a final question to you both, and i'll start with you, brian. each of you think of this wider problem of public safety. as we see violent crime on the rise in many major cities, what are tangible solutions that come to mind? brian, we'll start with you. >> obviously, we know that since the pandemic began there's been an absolute explosion of guns in circulation in this country. and it's insane because we already had more guns than people. so we absolutely need to address the problem of illegal guns coming into our communities, particularly into the hands of people who should not have them. but look, you know, there's a host of root causes that generate the opportunities for people to commit these violent acts. and those root causes cannot be
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addressed by police alone. it's simply not our job. and we need other elements of the system to get involved. we need the courts to get involved and to ensure that the people who are potential shooters are removed from the street, and we need other aspects to address these root causes. mental illness, homelessness, lack of education, jobs, et cetera. in newark, we made a commitment over a year ago that for every ten police officers we hire, we will hire one social worker as well. and we've embedded social workers into our police precincts with our officers so that those folks can try and deal with these problems that actually prevent and turn some lives around before these actions happen. >> rich, we'll give you the final word. >> i actually 100% wholeheartedly agree with what brian just said. you need everyone involved, from the politicians, law enforcement, mental health, hospital workers, prosecutors. you could go across the entire government apparatus and you
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need them all to be focusing on, how do we alleviate gun violence? how do we stop gun violence? is it just taking away guns? well, there are still illegal guns. what else needs to be done in addition to that? >> gentlemen, thank you both for your time. we are grateful. we'll see you down the road. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. we will have continuing coverage on the subway shooting tomorrow morning on "gma," in a few hours on "world news now," and overnight on >>. >> when we come back, remembering a beloved comedian with an unmistakable voice. looking to get back in your type 2 diabetes zone? once-weekly ozempic® can help. ♪ oh, oh, oh, ozempic®! ♪ ♪ oh, oh, oh ♪ ozempic® is proven to lower a1c. most people who took ozempic® reached an a1c under 7 and maintained it. and you may lose weight. adults lost on average up to 12 pounds. in adults also with known heart disease,
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finally tonight, we learned today that gilbert gottfried, the comic legend, the gravelly voice who made millions laugh on both the big and small screen, passed away of a heart condition. gottfried lent the iconic voice to the disney film "aladdin." tonight the cast of "aladdin" on broadway dedicated their show to him. >> we'd like to take a moment to celebrate the life of a comedy legend, a funny man with an indelible voice, the man who breathed life into iago for the animated film, mr. gilbert gottfried. [ applause ] >> in a statement his family said, we are heartbroken. gilbert was a wonderful husband, brother, friend, and father to his two young children, and although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in gilbert's honor.
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gilbert gottfried was 67. and that's "nightline" for this evening. catch our full episodes on hulu. we'll see you right back here same time tomorrow. thanks for the company, america. good night.


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