New York Republican Reps. Nicole Malliotakis, Lee Zeldin and Claudia Tenney said Tuesday that they’re mortified by the brutal Brooklyn subway shooting, but aren’t necessarily surprised at the violence amid rising crime in New York City.
“While we all await additional information on the facts, on motive, the suspect, and we want to see anyone responsible be held to justice, our hearts are very heavy in New York today,” Zeldin told Fox News. “We know that so many are fighting for their life or their recovery… And quite frankly, no one should ever have to experience this.”
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“It’s horrific. It’s absolutely scary and concerning to the entire community, to our city. We’re still waiting to get the facts,” Malliotakis said. “And most importantly, I think we need to let the NYPD do its job, conduct its investigation and get this perpetrator off the street.”
Malliotakis’ district includes Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn which she said get as close as three blocks away from where the shooting happened.
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As of early Tuesday evening, the suspect, who reportedly donned a gas mask, set off a smoke cannister and opened fire inside the Brooklyn subway station, was still on the loose. The suspect injured at least 28 people, five of whom are in critical condition.
The suspect’s shots struck multiple people on the subway car and on the platform, New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. He was wearing a green “construction type” vest and a hooded gray sweatshirt.
Authorities on Tuesday evening identified a person of interest, Frank James, who rented the U-Haul truck that investigators located while investigating the shooting. Police found keys to the U-Haul in the subway, and located the truck about five miles from the 36th Street Station where the gunman opened fire.
“My healing prayers to all those who were injured or impacted by this horrific shooting in Brooklyn today. This is a terrible tragedy,” Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., told Fox News. “I am really grateful to our first responders and the police for doing all that they’re doing to ensure that these people were given care.”
But, Tenney added, it was “not unexpected based on the way that law enforcement, the police have been demoralized and defunded in New York City after eight years of [former Mayor Bill] de Blasio and now some uncertainty from the new mayor. “
Tenney said she was disappointed that city officials said the shooting was not being investigated as a terrorist attack, although officials said later Tuesday they are not ruling out terrorism. Mayor Eric Adams also said the shooter meant to “terrorize” people in an MSNBC interview.
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“You should have to look at everything,” Tenney said.
Tenney also alluded to the spate of crime in the subway that’s been plagued New York City in recent years.
“It is not surprising that we are seeing this kind of terrible crime in New York state, and particularly going after people who must commute and use the public transportation to get to and from their jobs and to live their lives in New York City,” Tenney said.
Malliotakis said she regularly hears from New Yorkers worried about safety on the subway.
“People are just crying out for public safety. They’ve had enough of the lawlessness in New York. The want to live in a safe city. They want to be able to ride the subway system without worrying about, you know, any type of crime,” Malliotakis said. “People are experiencing being robbed, stabbed, assaulted, at train stations throughout our city and it has to end.”
“Rape, robbery, assault, hate crimes, car theft, they’ve all increased. Transit crimes are up 65% this year and people are scared, they’re tired and they’ve had enough,” Malliotakis added.
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“It’s unfortunately been a source of daily conversation here now for a while in New York, where we’re we’re seeing rising crime, eroding public safety and less people feeling confident on the streets and in the subways,” said Zeldin, who is running for governor of New York.
“As I’ve been traveling around New York City and the state, I would say that crime and public safety is the number one issue top of mind for New Yorkers right now. It’s not the only issue, but it’s number one,” Zeldin said. “People want to see a repeal of cashless bail. They want judges to have discretion on all offenses to weigh dangerousness and flight risk in past criminal record and seriousness of the offense when setting bail.”
New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital said it is currently treating a total of three patients from the subway attack; one for a gunshot injury, another for a fracture, and the third is non-trauma-related. All three patients are in stable condition. At Maimonides Health in Brooklyn, there are five victims; three being treated for smoke inhalation and two with either shrapnel or gunshot wounds.
Adams later Tuesday told FOX 5 New York that investigators are pursuing “several leads” and feel confident that they will make an arrest.
“We’re unsure of the motive or exactly where he came from, but we are carrying through on several leads,” Adams said. “We feel confident that we’re going to apprehend this person.”
Malliotakis Tuesday asked citizens to help authorities in that mission.
“People can be most helpful at this time by, you know, their videos or photos or eyewitness accounts to provide them to the NYPD as soon as possible,” Malliotakis said. “I think our number one priority is to get this individual, you know, off the street because we don’t know what his motive was or if he has a criminal history.”
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report,