Chicago Commuters Concerned for Safety After Brooklyn Subway Shooting, Violent CTA Attacks

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Safety on public transportation is top of mind for many Chicago commuters after a string of recent violent crimes at CTA stations, and a mass shooting at a Brooklyn subway station Tuesday.

A total of 10 people were struck by gunfire Tuesday when a man opened fire in a Brooklyn subway car, with five victims said to have been critically wounded. Police said that an additional 13 people were hurt by falling, smoke inhalation or other injuries suffered during the panic after the shots were fired.

The extent of the other victims' injuries wasn't clear.

And in Chicago, multiple incidents a man was stabbed during a fight on a Red Line train late Tuesday morning near the Chicago Avenue station — the fifth attack that occured at or near a CTA in a week.

Last week, CTA said it has added more security guards at stations, telling NBC Chicago that "the added security guards announced a few weeks ago are being deployed as quickly as possible."

And Tuesday, the agency said "There are no reports of any threats against CTA," in a statement soon after news of the Brooklyn shooting was reported.

But community concerns are on still the rise.

"Over the past several months, concerns have been raised by people living in the South Loop in regards to individual safety while riding the CTA," a statement from the South Loop Neighbors organization reads.

"There have been a number of recent news stories regarding violent 
crime at CTA stops as well as on the routes, specifically the CTA rail lines. The concerns raised by media reports are compounded by what many residents personally witness while using the CTA lines in the South Loop."

The neighborhood organization will hold a public meeting Wednesday to address community concerns regarding feelings of safety by riders of CTA routes, and what is being done to address the issue of violent crime.

Meanwhile, Metra said it has deployed additional resources to its trains and stations following the news.

"We remain as vigilant as ever about safety and security issues, and, as a precaution, we have deployed additional resources today," the rail agency said in a statement.

The agency asked riders and the public to report suspicious activity to Metra police at (312) 322-2800 or through the Metra COPS app.

The Latest on the Brooklyn Subway Shooting

More than 20 people were injured Tuesday on a Brooklyn subway by a man in an orange construction vest, possibly wearing a gas mask, who may have tossed a smoke canister on the platform to distract the rush hour crowd, according to fire and senior law enforcement officials. They stress the investigation is preliminary.

Investigators in New York have identified a person-of-interest in the attack as 62-year-old Frank James, and NBC Chicago has learned that James has ties to Chicago and to the Midwest,and that he once lived in a building in the Uptown neighborhood.

Authorities say that the gunman, who was wearing a gas mask, threw two smoke grenades onto the floor of a train as it pulled into the 36th Street station. He then opened fire with a Glock 9mm handgun, with authorities saying he fired nearly three-dozen shots.

The shooting only stopped because the weapon jammed, and the gunman escaped the scene in the ensuing chaos.

In a nearby subway tunnel, officers recovered a bag they believe was dropped the suspect. It contained consumer-grade fireworks, extended magazines and a bottle of gasoline.

They also found a key to a U-Haul van that was parked a few miles away from the scene. That van was rented from a Philadelphia business by James, who apparently has ties to the Chicago area.

ccording to a YouTube page purportedly belonging to James, he also at least passed through the area recently.  

In a video uploaded on March 20, entitled “Stop One Complete,” James said that he was leaving Wisconsin and that he was coming back to Illinois.

“As soon as I leave the state of Wisconsin, about to be back in the state of Illinois, all I can say is good riddance,” he said.

James also had a mailing address in Milwaukee, where he was seen as recently as five days ago, according to NBC News.

For now, New York is left reeling after the attack, which left five people in critical condition. All are expected to survive. A total of 29 people were treated in hospitals for gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation and other conditions stemming from the attack.

New York police are offering a $50,000 reward for information about the attack, according to officials.

The NYPD is leading the investigation. Federal investigators with ATF and HSI are also on the scene.

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