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Brooklyn shooting survivor Hourari Benkada says he sat next to the suspect on the train

Hourari Benkada jumped into the last carriage of the N train on Tuesday morning and sat next to a man wearing an MTA vest with a duffel bag who minutes later would unleash bloodshed and terror.

The 27-year-old described the terrifying commute in an interview with CNN from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to the back of his knee while trying to flee the mass gunman’s bullets.

“It makes me want to never ride a train again in my life,” Benkada told CNN via FaceTime.

“I was on the ART train at 59th Street and changed to the N train on the 59th. It was the first car, the last seats. And I just don’t pay attention, so I just went in and sat down. The guy is next to me, but I didn’t catch a glimpse of his face.”

The NYPD is continuing to search for the shooter who caused the chaotic commute just before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday but has named Frank James, 62, as a person of interest. Police say the keys found at the scene belong to a Philadelphia U-Haul truck rented by James.

Benkada, a housekeeping manager at the New York hotel, watched the man detonate a “smoke bomb” before firing shots just seconds after the train pulled out of the station.

Still visibly shaken, Benkada said, “I don’t even know how to hold my phone,” as he recounted what happened next.

Showing photos of Frank R. James has been identified by police as a renter of a subway van possibly connected to the Brooklyn subway shooting.
Showing photos of Frank R. James has been identified by police as a renter of a subway van possibly connected to the Brooklyn subway shooting.
Courtesy of NYPD via AP

“All you see is black smoke after the smoke bomb is detonated. People run backwards,” he told CNN. “About 10 shots were fired. I think the gun is jammed. I think it had an extended clip or something because I’ve never heard a lot of shots come from a pistol. It sounded like the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Benkada said his main priority is to help an injured pregnant woman get off the train before she is rammed. Then Benkada described how he was shot.

“The worst pain of my entire life. I was just so shocked that the pain only hit me afterwards.”

Front page of the New York Post, April 13, 2022.
Front page of the New York Post, April 13, 2022.

The bullet hit him in the back of his knee and came out the other side. Doctors told him the bullet grazed his kneecap. He is expected to be able to walk on his own on crutches after several weeks.

Officials described James as a concerned man who railed against Mayor Adams and made bizarre threats on YouTube.

A gunman filled a rush-hour subway train in Brooklyn with smoke Tuesday, killing several people.
A gunman filled a rush-hour subway train in Brooklyn with smoke Tuesday, killing several people.
Will B Wylde via AP

James – who warned last month he was “entering the danger zone” – rented a U-Haul van linked to the Sunset Park N-Train attack and is wanted for questioning. This was announced by the police at a briefing in the evening.

The NYPD increased security for Mayor Adams after police discovered the videos.

James said in the videos that he had been diagnosed with a mental illness and railed against what he called a “horror show” by the city’s mental health services.

D/N/R trains resumed service at the 36th Street subway station in each direction early Wednesday, the MTA said.

The three trains suspended operations in parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan after the shooting just before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The R train later resumed service, but bypassed the station where the shooting took place.

The day was capped by a series of shootings that racked parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn on Tuesday night, killing three people and injuring at least 12 others, police and sources said.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/13/brooklyn-shooting-survivor-hourari-benkada-says-he-sat-next-to-suspect-on-train/ Brooklyn shooting survivor Hourari Benkada says he sat next to the suspect on the train

JACLYN DIAZ

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