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At This Hour

FDNY: 13 Injured, 5 Shot in NYC Subway Shooting. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired April 12, 2022 - 11:30   ET



BILL BRATTON; FORMER POLICE COMMISSIONER NYPD: The ongoing problems has been having getting control of its crime and subway crime situation trying to get people back to work in New York City. This is going to be a significant setback for that effort certainly.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I was actually going to ask you, Commissioner, because MTA, I think is the largest public transportation system I think even in North America. I mean how do you keep a massive public transit system running and safe while conducting an investigation like this? What are all the factor that you - that you have to be considering here?

BRATTON: Well a lot, I'm very intimate with it, I was Chief of Transit Police there from 1990 to '92. So I've got a lot of experience there and I ran the one in Boston for a couple years before that. The subway system is extraordinarily complex, it is the largest in the United States. Pre-COVID it was carrying six million people a day. Right now about 3.5 million a day.

It is an extraordinarily complex system even the confusion this morning as what line this train was running on is reflective of the complexity that you have multiple lines and several (ph) of them running on the same tracks. So from an MTA perspective they are a significant part of this investigation as they're going to have to shut off electricity to allow police and investigators to get into these tunnels, evacuating people out of trains that might still be stuck in tunnels. You know (ph), wait until you can move those trains safely into a station or do you move people off trains and get them up to emergency exits, in which case you need to shut down the power.

You could go on and on and on about the complexity of anything that happens below ground in the subway system particularly this magnitude, where we don't know if it's a crime or an act of terrorism at the moment.

BOLDUAN: How much of a concern is the subway system or was it in terms of being a target when you were Commissioner?

BRATTON: Certainly post 9/11 the world changed for policing and it had been focused on crime and disorder, that's what I dealt with in the '90's in New York in the subway. Terrorism became an overriding factor after 9/11 to the extent that a number of the tunnel entrances, for example, going under the river are policed 24-hours a day in the sense to try preclude (ph) people from getting into those tubes.

Recently the city has put almost 1,000 additional officers into the subway system to deal with the rising crime and disorder concerns. And that's been added to by additional officers who have sign into (ph) to routinely walk through stations while they're on street patrol.

So the complexity of it is phenomenal. And this is going to add to that complexity where there's now the fear of potential terrorist acts.



BRATTON: The idea of how easy it is to pull off an act of terrorism or a crime anywhere in that system. We were very good at keeping that system safe, the crime level when it was six million riders a day was down to six crimes a day, down from 50 a day when I first took over in 1990 with 3.5 million riders.

So the concern of terrorism was certainly heightened after 9/11, it's something fortunately New York, NYPD, FBI continue to focus on continually. Watching (ph) for signs of that type of issue. But the events of this morning's showed that you can try your best to defend against these actions but they're still going to happen, that's the reality of the - our country at this time, our world at this time.

BOLDUAN: Isn't it what we always say, law enforcement has to get it right 99 - can get it right 99 percent of the time and it's just take one bad actor one time.

BRATTON: That's correct, it only takes one bad actor. And this - if it's time preliminarily seems like it may be one individual using some type of smoking device as well as a fire arm of some sort to inflict those eight casualties that we're experiencing so far.

BOLDUAN: Does that - does that and I don't know how - a different way to say it, but does that bring you some comfort if it is one person?

BRATTON: It does in the sense that if that in fact it what it turns out to be and if they make a quick apprehension. Until they make that apprehension however the fear level is going to remain very high understandably.

Is this character intent on repeating what this morning was quite clearly a successful crime; injuring, shooting possibly eight people and disrupting the most complex transit system in America? Not only just this morning but people tonight are going to fearful going home. That a lot of people aren't going to take that subway system going home tonight.

And that's the challenge for Mayor Adams, his police commissioner and ranging from the President on down. One of the reason the President is onto (ph) this so quickly is that with concerns about terrorism potentially coming out of the Ukraine initiatives does this have any bearing on that. And that's where the police and FBI are going to try to very quickly let people know what this was. Was it a crime? If so, what was the motivation? If so, who did it?


And then very quickly try to apprehend that person. But even apprehending that person who was clearly very comfortable using a firearm of some sort to injury eight people; capturing that person is going to be very dangerous for law enforcement as they seek to make that apprehension.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Commissioner, if you could hang with me I think we have Chief Ramsey back as well to add to this - add to this conversation.

Chief, the fact that - the fact that there is no better description of this suspect, at lease to this point, does that suggest something to you?

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well not really. I mean listen this is still early in the investigation and so the initial description that was given and as you mentioned earlier, even though they were wearing (ph) (inaudible) safety vest and with some mask (ph) of some kind I guarantee the person's still not wearing that now.

I don't know what information they have. If they've got video, they were able to give a more accurate description and they have videos (inaudible) going to the subway station or leaving the subway station. I mean we'll get a lot more accurate information from this particular press conference (ph). I wouldn't be overly concerned about the lack of description at this point in time.

Again, we're still in the early stages. And NYPD, believe me they have a lot of information already probably in this case. The question of what they can release publicly at this point in time.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Commissioner Bratton, how important is it to get - to get an accurate description out when they come out in this press conference? That has to be part of the conversation is that you hear so many, as you mentioned earlier, so many differ - there are different descriptions by witnesses after a chaotic event and a trauma like this.

And how important is it when it comes from the Commissioner, when she comes out to speak, that they - what they - they get it - they get it right the first time when they - when they describe the suspect, if they are still looking for him?

BRATTON: It's going to be very important as much as possible to try to pinpoint who did this if they can get a imagery that they can then tie into potentially a name. Because you don't want to end up engaging in a witch hunt. You know the initial description; it was a black male. Well 25 percent of the population in New York if African American. So you don't want people looking at every black male on the subway as the potential shooter.

So part of the challenge is to as quickly as possible try to with some degree of precision and nobody does precision policing better than the NYPD, identify a named suspect that can basically take it from the broad base category to the much more carefully defined.

BOLDUAN: I want to for everyone to - let's go back inside the subway station and inside the train where, according to an eyewitness, this all played out. This is video we're going to show you and I'm going to stop talking so you can hear it as well. Video we'll show you of what one eyewitness sent in.




BOLDUAN: So in this you can see what looks like think smoke. You can see people covering their faces and you can see that - what looks like the train is moving. Jonathan Wackrow, is back with us. Jonathan, how important are videos like this, and you know that there's likely more than that that police are going to be able to get their hands on, and trying to piece this together and figure out what happened, when and where?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the video is going to show a lot of evidence or a lot of item of evidentiary value for investigators. But I think, you know, it's important to look at, you know, the stress that these individuals are going through in this video that we're watching.

There's a physiological and psychological effect to stressful situations. So, you know, in the moment of a critical incident like this investigators are very mindful of that. You know, immediately after going through a traumatic situation like to try to, you know, pull out items or descriptions of potential witnesses. Investigators know that they may not be getting all of the information that's necessary.

That's why for investigations, you know, literally at a crime scene there's overlapping lines of effort that are put forth to try to identify who the individual was.

So I think it's, you know, it's really important to understand that, you know, these people that were, you know, we're witnessing on these videos, I mean we're watching near real time that trauma occurring to them.


I mean that was in one train car where there's smoke, we had gun fire, we had, you know, injured victims. So this is a very stressful situation.

And the care of those individuals afterwards, right. So we know that there have been people who have been physically injured but there also going to be a lot of people mentally injured. And this incident broadly for the city of New York who has faced, you know, terror attacks in the past, you know, this is a harsh reminder that, you know, these incidents are dynamic and they can happen at any moment in time.

And, again, this is going to, you know, raise the stress level across the city. So what we're going to witness I think coming out in this press conference is the police commissioner, she is going to try to reassure the communities at-large that the NYPD working with their law enforcement partners are in control of the situation. They, you know, working to identify this suspect and that the consequence management program that is long standing in the City of New York and how they work with these agency is in affect to make this city secure.

I think it's also, just one final point here, it's important to note that, you know, what we heard from Commissioner Ramsey and Commissioner Bratton is that there could be a multitude of causes for this - for this incident. But the consequences are often the same. They are loss of life, they're injury of innocent victims.

So what we have to think about is that the city of New York remains safe because the consequence management program that has been put into place works, we're seeing that real-time play out. And I would suspect that we have a suspect in custody hopefully in the very near future.

BOLDUAN: Yes, hopefully, that's exactly right. All right, so what you all, as Jonathan was talking, we just updated. We received a updated number from FDNY, just as Commissioner Bratton suspected and he said he had been hearing, which is 16 people injured, eight people shot. That is up from the five that we have been told previously at this subway station in Brooklyn.

And here's what we're going to do now. This press conference is really going to start any moment. They might actually be saying it's going to be starting right now. We're going to try - we're going - we're going to fit in a quick break and then we're going - we're going to come back for this press conference and the latest update from New York City on this subway attack.




BOLDUAN: All right. We're continuing to follow the breaking news out of New York City. New York authorities are set any second now to be holding their first briefing on the shooting attack at that Brooklyn subway station.

We're just going to try to listen in. It looks like they're doing checks to make sure they're ready to go and then beginning this press conference.

What we know right now, right before break, we had an update; eight people shot, 16 people injured. We also have new pictures that just came in. We're going to look at these together for the first time. This is pictures from inside the station. You can see very clearly people sitting on the station and also looks like you see smoke looks like you see smoke but most importantly, you can see people injured after this attack and this, another image that we've seen blood on the floor. Looks like it is inside that train car.

We know from an eyewitness that we've heard from that he -- one thing that he noted he said there was a lot of blood on the floor of that train car. So many details not known but we've heard from this eyewitness on CNN earlier that it started in the train car.

Smoke filled the car and shots rang out and people were trying to crush up against the other side of the train car understandably trying to get away from the gunfire and then you can imagine the chaos that ensued when the train arrived at the subway station and the doors opened and then they came out.

Right now, we're standing by for this press conference. With me -- with me right now -- are they -- is -- nope, still hasn't started yet. Joining me right now, Jonathan Wackrow, he's still with me, as well as Chief Charles Ramsey.

Chief, we see these new images. It's just; I think brings it back to, as this investigation is under way. A manhunt under way. We still don't have yet an identity of or any more information about the suspect but just to remember that now we have eight people shot and probably what was really an incident inside a train car, Chief.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, well they -- again, that just goes to point to the issue that was raised earlier, and that is earlier in the investigation -- early in an investigation, all the information you receive is inaccurate.

A lot of the people who are listed as injured, many were injured during a stampede, if you will, as they're trying to leave the train. They may not have even know they were shot until they had a chance to be checked, depending on the nature of the injury. So, you know, this is probably a much more accurate number that we have now. Eight actually shot, 16 injured in total than we had before.


But, yeah, we're going to find out a lot more. I believe that we're going to hear a lot from NYPD during this particular press conference. So we'll have a lot more information that will really kind of firm up a lot of these numbers and information that we have so far.

BOLDUAN: And chief, just talk to me, because I know a lot of people see the cameras standing by, the microphones set up. We've been standing by, waiting for a press conference, you know, since this morning when really this all started to unfold. And people wonder, why is it -- and they wonder, why is it taking so long for the police to come out and give us an update. What is going on behind the scenes when they come out, when they know that the eyes of the world will be on them?

RAMSEY: Well, first of all, the information they give has to be factual, it has to be accurate. And they want to make sure it's accurate. You have to remember, this is still unfolding. More information is still pouring in as we speak.

And so is that information is going to be relevant that they need to get out or is it something that's going to change some of the information they already have. So you have all of these things going on right now. I wouldn't be overly concerned about it, you know? I know everybody wants to kind of find out more, but when they come out, they'll have as much information as they can possibly have at that point in time.

And again, you know, an hour from now, two hours from now, some of that may change. I mean we want to get information out as quickly as possible, but these investigations are very dynamic. And, you know, information can change slightly, as you move through the investigation. So, they're really just trying to make sure they have all of their facts and everything straight. And be able to provide as much information to the public as they possibly can. Accurate information to the public.

Absolutely right, Chief. Jonathan, I've been wanting to ask you, one of your specialties is assessing risk, and assessing threat. And in the subway, at least, especially, maybe New York subway, it's either -- is it either particularly vulnerable oar a particularly attractive target? What is it about subways?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Kate, that's a great question. And you know, subways and public transportation, you know, represent soft targets. So whether it's the subway platform, the subway itself, there -- while there may be police presence, these are not, you know, fortified locations. They don't have an increased level of security.

So anytime you have locations that have -- that -- where the general public congregates en masse, you know, that is not defended, you know, can be a target of interest for somebody with nefarious intent. This is a -- this is a challenge. When you look at the size and scope of the transportation system in and across not only New York, but every major metropolitan city in the United States, defending and securing those transportation systems is a daunting task by any law enforcement entity.

So it -- it -- it presents, you know, opportunities for individuals, and we have seen it in the past. You know, transportation hubs have been the target of terrorist attacks in the past. They'll continue to be so in the future, because they do represent a soft target. And they're an evaluated risk.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. You know, Chief, we know Brynn Gingras said earlier that the governor, Kathy Hochul, she's on the ground. She'll be there. One thing, you know, people should also remember is that the mayor, New York City's mayor, Eric Adams, is not going to be there. He just tested positive for COVID, so he's in isolation. Does that complicate this response at all?

RAMSEY: I think it does, to an extent of just information flow and so forth. He's the kind of individual, I don't know him personally, but just from what I've seen so far, he obviously wants to stay on top of everything.

So there's a flow of information that has to get to him, coordination, and so forth. Someone will be speaking on his behalf, I would imagine, at the actual press conference. So, I mean, it complicates it but not so much that you can't get things done. But obviously, it would be much better and work much smoother if he were physically on the scene.

And right now, it's killing him that he's not at the scene, I know, because something like this, you want -- you want to be there because information you receive via telephone or what have you, it's just not the same as actually being on the scene and seeing what's going on. So I'm sure that's something that -- that they have to deal with.

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely -- that's absolutely the case. Chief, what -- I think it would be quite interesting to ask a chief what you would ask another chief. What would be your top question when the NYPD comes to the microphones any moment now?

RAMSEY: Well, knowing what she can say and what she can't say, but right now I would really focus on whether or not they have an accurate description of the individual involved.


Is there a description that could be given out publicly? Is there anything else that can be done? Do you have a photo of this individual, so it's a person of interest that someone in the public might say, oh, that's so-and-so and be able to provide information. But knowing who this individual is.

But it's going to start off with her giving a lot of basic information as far as what they know, what took place as they know it, what time? How many people were injured? The extent of those injuries, all of those kinds of things will probably be what really starts it off once she gets an opportunity to speak. But I'm sure the elected officials will probably go first.

But one of the first things I'd want to know from her is all the information that they possibly have on the suspect because that's the most important thing. That's the person you've got to get your hands on.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. And that -- and that -- I mean that is the most urgent -- that is the most urgent thing at hand, which is, there is a suspect at large, that's -- that's at least what we know right now, a manhunt underway.

And a -- to this -- to this point, a pretty vague description of what they're looking for, that they've put out publicly. And also unknown is the condition of the eight people who were shot. The condition is -- the eight -- the eight people shot is part of that 16 people injured total, just for clarity for everyone. What is their condition? What is the nature of their -- of their wounds and their injuries from those -- from those gunshots? All questions that you know people want to know.

What -- Jonathan, what are the tools at their disposal to conduct this manhunt, kind of behind the scenes, if you will?

WACKROW: Well, listen, I mean, I think one of the greatest tools that investigators have right now are -- is the people of New York, right. And I think that Commissioner Ramsey and Commissioner Bratton both stated earlier in the previous segment, you see something, say something.

I mean this is an individual that is at large, on the run, so, you know, anybody that is anonymous -- you know, having anomalous behavior in and around New York City, that looks like they're an individual that is in flight, that needs to be reported back to, not only NYPD, but any law enforcement entity, immediately.

And you know, it goes a little bit deeper than this. I mean the Secret Service in the past; the National Threat Assessment Center has done a study about mass attacks in public spaces. And one of the key metrics here is that in 75% of the cases that were studied, the attacker actually made what's known as concerning, you know, communications.

They had indicated or telegraphed, you know, a violent act in the past. So this is where the public's assistance in working with the NYPD federal and state investigators is really important to raise up anything that might be suspicious. See something, say something, report. That's the -- that's one of the big key factors to success in, you know, resolving this matter.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right, so we are standing by for this very first briefing from the top officials on the scene from the authorities on this attack, on the subway. Eight people shot in this subway attack in Brooklyn. We'll jump out of the break if we need to when this briefing begins. We'll be right back.