Authorities in New York update the search for a gunman who shot multiple people on a subway train.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.
We are awaiting a press conference from the NYPD any minute to update us on the Brooklyn subway shooting, where, this morning, a man wearing a gas mask through a smoke canister and opened fire aboard a moving subway train during rush hour; 16 people were injured including 10 people shot.
The horrific incident occurred in Sunset Park, home to the neighborhood known as Brooklyn`s Chinatown and a large Latino population as well. It comes as new crime figures show a 36 percent increase in major crimes in New York and a 16 percent spike in shootings over the past year.
Attack on a low subway ridership, transit crime and attacks on Asian Americans on subways all fueling the anxiety that New York is returning to its crime-ridden bad old days. It`s also happening while we`re in the midst of a Supreme Court case that challenges New York`s requirement that a person show proper cause to secure an unrestricted license to publicly carry a concealed handgun, meaning, if the court strikes down this law, this could mean more guns and more violence, including on the subways.
Let`s bring in NBC News correspondent Jesse Kirsch, who is at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn.
Jesse, what is the latest?
And I will just warn you, we are waiting for this press conference. I hope I don`t have to rudely interrupt you. But tell us what you are looking at right now.
JESSE KIRSCH, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: No, all good, Joy.
And, obviously, we`re monitoring of several developments ourself, looking at that news conference. And just got word from our team back at headquarters that the governor of New York`s chief of staff, her team tweeting out a photo of the governor on the subway tonight.
So, officials here in New York are trying to protect -- project, obviously, that there is an element of safety here, there is an element of calm, but they are still looking for the person responsible for this attack.
And just to put this into context for people who aren`t familiar with the New York subway system, aren`t familiar with New York City, a lot of people rely on the subway to get around in this city, people who are going to work, children who are going to school.
In fact, I talked with some teens this morning, who were heading to work and wound -- or -- sorry -- who were heading to school and wound up having to get off the train. Thankfully, they`re OK and were on another train, not the train that was under attack.
But that just gives you a sense of how many people rely on those trains in the morning hours around when this happened at 8:30. And this train was headed for Midtown Manhattan.
The latest information we have on the injured -- we are at NYU Langone Hospital. We know 21 people were brought to this hospital. There are other hospitals that had patients treated as well. So, in all, we know of at least 29 people who are injured. At this point, everyone is expected to be OK.
Their injuries include smoke inhalation, as well as gunshot wounds. Again, everyone is alive, expected to be OK. And, at this point, authorities are trying to find the person responsible. The latest information we have on that front is that authorities are eying a U-Haul vehicle here in Brooklyn.
We are right now about a 10-minute drive from where this shooting scene happened. And about half-an-hour, within half-an-hour of where we are right now is where this U-Haul vehicle has been isolated by police. So we`re trying to find out more information about how that all ties into this.
But, again, at this point, the suspect is not in custody, at last word from police. And we also understand that there was an issue with some surveillance video at the train station. So that might have inhibited the investigation in the early going.
But, thankfully, no one was killed in this attack. And at this point, we`re trying to get more information from authorities as to who was responsible and why they may have done this. But, at this point, the last word we had from the NYPD commissioner is that she does not believe that this is an act of terrorism.
So we`re trying to get more information, and, again, officials here trying to project that there is a level of safety here tonight. And you can see her at the hospital it is a calm scene, but, certainly, people are questioning why this happened, how this could happen, and what will happen moving forward to keep people safe, because this is just the latest of several high-profile incidents on the subways in New York -- Joy.
REID: Jesse Kirsch, thank you very much. Really appreciate you.
With me now, Marq Claxton, retired NYPD detective and director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, and Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence for the FBI and an MSNBC national security analyst.
And, Marq, one of the other things that those who -- of us who are familiar with the New York subway system -- and I rode that for a very long time -- is that it`s also one of the most surveilled passageways in the country. It`s one of the largest transit systems, if not the largest, in the entire country, if not in the world. But it`s also that CCTV cameras everywhere.
And so I`m wondering, from your point of view, as a former law enforcement officer, and also from Frank`s point of view, are you surprised that there`s actually not more video evidence? Because we know that all gets routed into 1 Police Plaza.
And in real time, police officers can really start to go through that footage.
MARQ CLAXTON, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: I actually think, Joy, that there is much more video evidence of some video items that is available through the NYPD`s Domain Awareness System.
I think what`s been released so far deals specifically with the immediate area and perhaps some of the difficulties in obtaining video from inside that particular subway station.
But with that Domain Awareness System, that includes a network of cameras throughout the city, tens of thousands of cameras, some of them owned by the NYPD. Others are privately owned, but the NYPD has access to those video feeds.
And then, when you add in so many of the license plate readers and other databases that are available to obtain information even at the spur of the moment, there are significant and substantive items that the police department has to start this investigation.
REID: Oh, we`re -- I`m going to stop you, Marq, because it looks like this press conference is beginning.
We`re going to listen in. And here they go.
JOHN MILLER, NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: We`re here to provide an update on the ongoing investigation into the shooting that occurred earlier today in Brooklyn.
We`re going to hear from Police Commissioner of the city of New York Keechant Sewell, Chief of Department Ken Corey. We have First Deputy Commissioner Ed Caban here.
Chief of Detectives James Essig will update us on the investigation. We also have Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI, in charge of the New York office, Mike Driscoll and the JTTF efforts with the NYPD that are ongoing, as well as the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, John DeVito.
But we will begin with word from Gracie Mansion, from the mayor of the city of New York, Eric Adams.
KEECHANT SEWELL, NYPD COMMISSIONER: He`s talking thinking, but we cannot hear the mayor.
SEWELL: Thank you all for your patience.
MILLER: We`re having audio difficulties. So what we`re going to do is regroup here.
We`re going to cut to the police commissioner and, when we solve the audio problems, we will bring the mayor back. (OFF-MIKE)
Thank you all for attending this evening and helping us get this information out to the public. It`s so important.
We are truly fortunate that this was not significantly worse than it is. As we reported this afternoon, a man who was traveling on a Manhattan-bound N train opened two canisters that dispensed smoke throughout the subway car. He then shot multiple passengers as the train pulled into the 36th Street station in Sunset Park; 10 people were injured by gunfire, and an additional 13 were either injured as they rushed to get out of the train station or they suffered smoke inhalation.
Some good news is that none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening. As detectives processed the crime scene, they uncovered a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun, extended magazines and a hatchet.
Also found is a liquid we believe to be gasoline and a bag containing consumer-grade fireworks and a hobby fuse. About an hour ago, detectives located a U-Haul van in Brooklyn that we believe is connected to the suspect.
At this time, we still do not know the suspect`s motivation. Clearly, this individual boarded the train and was intent on violence. We`re conducting a highly coordinated investigation that includes NYPD detectives, the FBI, NYPD, Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the ATF, who have been instrumental in tracing the firearm and ballistics.
The suspect is a dark-skinned male and was wearing a neon orange vest and a gray-colored sweatshirt. We do have a person of interest in this investigation. But we need the public assistance with additional information.
We`re asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577- TIPS.
We know this incident is of grave concern to New Yorkers. We cannot lose sight of victims in this city. We will use every resource we can to bring those to justice who continue to prey on the citizens of New York.
I will ask Chief James Essig to come in and give details of the investigation.
JAMES ESSIG, NYPD CHIEF OF DETECTIVES: Good evening, everybody.
Today, at 8:24 a.m., aboard a Manhattan bound N train, 10 people were shot, seven males, three females. And they were removed to area hospitals. An additional 13 people suffered injuries related to smoke inhalation, falling down, or a panic attack.
The information I`m about to give you was preliminary and it`s subject to change right now.
As that N train was between stations 59th Street and the 36th Street stations, seated in the second car in the rear corner was a dark-skinned male. Various descriptions of his height are given. He is heavyset, wearing an orange green nylon-type construction vest. He also had on a gray hoodie, a surgical mask and a neon green construction helmet.
As the train approached the 36th Street station, witnesses state the male opened up two smoke grenades, tossed them on the subway floor, brandishes a Glock 9-millimeter handgun. He then fired that weapon at least 33 times, striking 10 people.
The male then fled the scene, and detectives are actively trying to determine his whereabouts.
Recovered at that scene was a Glock 17 9-millimeter handgun, three extended Glock-type magazines. One was still in the weapon, one under a seat, and one in a backpack. We had 33 discharged shell casings, 15 bullets, five bullet fragments, two detonated smoke relates, two non-detonated smoke grenades, a hatchet, a black garbage can, a black milk-type style rolling cart, the gasoline, and a U-Haul key.
The U-Haul key at the scene led us to the recovery of a U-Haul van a short while ago in Brooklyn. The male who we believe is the renter of this U-Haul in Philadelphia is a Frank R. James, male, 62 years old, with addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia.
We are endeavoring to locate him to determine his connection to the subway shooting, if any.
The two crime scenes, the subway and the van, are very active and are still being processed. We are asking for anyone`s help with information, cell phone video, witness information, or any -- if they can identify the perpetrator or the renter of this vehicle to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 577-TIPS.
There is a $50,000 reward out right now, $25,000 from the New York City Police Foundation, $12,500 from the MTA, and $12,500 from the TWA Local 100.
I just want to assure everyone that we in the NYPD have all our resources working this, along with our partners in the FBI and the ATF, to find this perpetrator.
With that I`d like to turn it over to Mike Driscoll.
MILLER: We`re going to...
ESSIG: Oh, the mayor? OK.
MILLER: We`re going to go back to the mayor.
SEWELL: Mr. Mayor, we`re ready for you.
ERIC ADAMS (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Thank you, Commissioner and Chief.
As we indicated, today was a difficult day for New York. And days like these are playing out too often in cities across America. As mentioned, this morning, we witnessed an act of violence and evil in the heart of Brooklyn, when a shooter attacked a subway car full of innocent people at 36th Street station.
We saw a quiet Tuesday morning turn the N train into the war zone, as a smoke bomb was detonated and multiple shots rang out. We witnessed 20 individuals that have been injured so far, as it was mentioned.
And thanks to the quick thinking of the MTA crew and the bravery and cooperation of passengers, lives were saved. And thanks to our first responders, the injured were quickly taken to area hospitals, and all of them are expected to recover.
You know I have been realistic and outspoken about my commitment to protecting public safety. I stand by that and will continue to do everything in my power to dam the rivers that feed the sea of violence.
But this is not only a New York City problem. This rage, this violence, these guns, these relentless shooters are an American problem. And it`s going to take all levels of government to solve it.
It is going to take the entire nation to speak out and push back against the cult of death that has taken hold in this nation, a cult that allows innocents to be sacrificed on a daily basis, a country where buying weapons of mass destruction is as easy as picking up a piece of plywood or a garden shovel, a country where there are more guns than people.
There are over 400 million guns in this country alone. The U.S. gun homicide rate is 26 times that of other high-income countries, where over 100 people die in gun violence every day. Guns are the leading cause of death for American children and teens, like the 16-year-old baby we lost in the Bronx.
From schools in Columbine, Sandy Hook and Virginia, to music festivals in Las Vegas, to nightclubs in Orlando, to movie theaters and yoga classes across the nation, these killers have used weapons of mass destruction to massacre innocent people. They control no armies or military forces, yet these individual killers terrorize our nation.
I want this said, that this city is not going to adapt to dysfunction. Ending gun violence means changing gun laws. We cannot clean up a flood when the water is still pouring into the basement. And we can never stop the killing if we cannot stop the guns.
To be clear, we will not surrender our city to the violent few, and we will not surrender all of America to this cult of death. The sea of violence comes from many rivers. We must dam every river that feeds the greater crisis.
That is the work of my life, this administration and this police department. I will not stop until the peace we deserve becomes the reality we experience.
You have my word as a former police officer, a fellow New Yorker and your mayor that we will end this epidemic, and that we will capture the individual responsible for today`s attack. We will capture him and prosecute him to the full extent of the law.
Thank you, NYPD, FDNY, our first responders, the collaboration from the federal government, the state, the city agencies.
SEWELL: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.
I`d like to turn it over to Assistant Special agent in Charge at the FBI and New York office Michael Driscoll.
MICHAEL DRISCOLL, ASSISTANT SPECIAL FBI AGENT IN CHARGE: Thank you, Commissioner.
I want to start by expressing our hopes and prayers that the victims of this event will enjoy a quick recovery. They are our primary focus right now.
I also want to echo the thanks for the partnership to the NYPD, the ATF, and all the partners who are contributing to this investigation.
Right now, the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force is fully engaged with this investigation, providing assistance through manpower, technical assistance, and basically everything we can throw at it.
We expect the process to be a long one as we gather all possible information to track down all possible leads. And I would encourage you, as it was mentioned earlier, to please reach out to the NYPD tip line at one 800-577-TIPS.
And I would also add, as frequently the case in many of our current investigations, everyone`s got a cell phone in their pocket. There`s a lot of video out there. If you have digital information that you would like to share with us in connection with this investigation, please visit FBI.gov/Brooklynshooting, where you can upload that information.
So we are seeking the public`s help. You heard mentioned before of a name of possible interest. Videos would be particularly helpful or any other additional witnesses who have yet to come forward that can provide information that might help this investigation.
So, thank you for your participation. And I thank everyone for their partnership in the course of the investigation. Thank you.
SEWELL: We will take a couple of questions.
Commissioner Sewell, is it the belief that he fled on foot after abandoning the van or (OFF-MIKE)
SEWELL: We are not sure where he went at this point. That is subject to investigation.
We have a number of resources that are combing on foot and doing video canvasses as well to determine where he went.
QUESTION: I`m sorry.
(OFF-MIKE) posted videos online talking about being evicted from the mayor`s mental health programs. Can you talk to us about this (OFF-MIKE)
SEWELL: So, based on some preliminary information, there was some postings possibly connected to our person of interest where he mentions homelessness. He mentions New York. And he does mention Mayor Adams.
And, as a result of that, in an abundance of caution, we`re going to tighten the mayor`s security detail.
QUESTION: Just to be clear, so this person, Frank James, he`s not the person of interest that is in custody of this moment?
SEWELL: ... to that.
ESSIG: We have no one in custody at this time, no.
We are looking for Frank James. We know he rented this U-Haul van. The key of that U-Haul van was found at the crime scene in the subway.
QUESTION: And Mr. James made those social media posts?
ESSIG: We`re poring through that, but, yes, correct.
QUESTION: And you believe he was the one in the train? Is that correct?
ESSIG: We are looking to determine if he has any connection to the train.
We know Mr. James rented that U-Haul truck in Philadelphia.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) those threats online (OFF-MIKE) the commissioner was just speaking (OFF-MIKE)
SEWELL: So, we`re not calling them threats. He made some concerning posts -- or someone made some concerning posts. We cannot attribute it to that individual yet. That`s under investigation.
But, again, in an abundance of caution, we`re going to tighten the mayor`s security detail. That`s all.
QUESTION: Does he have connections, does he have any connection to (OFF- MIKE) any connection whatsoever to that subway station (OFF-MIKE)
SEWELL: That is subject to investigation. We don`t have that information yet.
QUESTION: Does he have a criminal record?
QUESTION: Does have a criminal record?
ESSIG: Mr. James is just a person of interest we know right now who rented that U-Haul van in Philadelphia. The keys to that U-Haul van were found in the subway in our shooter`s possessions.
We don`t know right now if Mr. James has any connection to the subway. That`s still under investigation.
QUESTION: Chief Essig, do you have any what we call robust DNA evidence from the crime scene or the van?
ESSIG: The crime scene still being processed now. The van is being processed. And the subway crime scene is being processed.
But we -- it`s too early right now to tell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
QUESTION: Can you explain where this U-Haul was located? Was it nearby?
And, also, I mean, you said you`re investigating these videos, but can you confirm that it was him in the video or people that know (OFF-MIKE). We`re just trying to make that connection.
ESSIG: The video -- the YouTube videos or the videos on -- there`s a man who posted on there, Frank James.
We`re still working to see if that`s our person who rented the video.
QUESTION: And where was the U-Haul located?
ESSIG: Kings Highway in Brooklyn.
QUESTION: Kings Highway and what intersection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: West Fourth.
ESSIG: West Fourth and Kings Highway.
QUESTION: Is there anything more you can tell us about the content of the posts? And I know you said it wasn`t a direct threat (OFF-MIKE) the mayor. Can you tell us anything he said about the mayor that caused you to beef up his security detail?
SEWELL: There were general topics of concern. And I don`t want to go into too many details about the mayor`s security detail. We`re just doing it just to be on the safe side.
QUESTION: And just any other details about homelessness? You mentioned there were postings about homelessness
SEWELL: Complaints about homelessness, complaints about New York, nothing in general. I`m sorry, just general comments that cause us some concern that are subject to investigation at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
QUESTION: Why were there no working surveillance cameras in the station? Why did police radios not work in the station? And how much did those factors hamper this investigation?
ESSIG: Yes, we know that there were three stations that the video wasn`t working.
We`re still investigating that to see why or how those -- whether it was a mechanical problem, electrical issue, why those videos weren`t up.
QUESTION: And the police radios?
ESSIG: There was no issues with police radios.
QUESTION: There were reports that one of the first officers on the scene said his radio wasn`t working. And he told one of the teenagers there to call 911.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, so patrol officers, so officers who work topside, if you will, and patrol precincts, when they go down in the station, they have to switch frequencies.
It`s a UHF vs. VHF. So if they didn`t switch the radio over to the VHF frequency, they would not be able to transmit that in the subway station. So it`s user error. It wasn`t a problem with the actual radio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bloomberg News.
QUESTION: How many officers are assigned to the 36th Street station? And were there any officers in the station at all (OFF-MIKE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we don`t typically assign officers to subway stations. Officers patrol on a rotating basis. They ride trains, they come out, they patrol the stations.
Patrol officers from the precincts stop, go down, and they do station inspections. We have been doing that since January. So that station was patrolled several times today. There were no officers present in the station at the time of the shooting, but it had been patrolled several times on this calendar date prior to the shooting in the early morning hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)
QUESTION: What do we know about Mr. James and his local ties to New York City?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim.
ESSIG: We know Mr. James has -- Mr. James has addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia. As far as New York, it`s still under investigation, but he`s just a person of interest right now in this case.
QUESTION: Is it clear when he entered the station? And is he on video anywhere after the fact?
ESSIG: We know the shooter was -- entered the station on Kings Highway.
So we`re asking for anybody who knows -- from Kings Highway to 35th Street is eight stops. Anybody who sees him with any information, please call Crime Stoppers.
QUESTION: And when was James last seen? Is that clear? Is he on video at all?
ESSIG: We literally have hundreds of detectives out in the field right now poring through video at train stations, the egresses, the recovery sites of the vehicle.
So we hope to have clearer pictures of who we believe is the shooter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, two more questions.
QUESTION: About the weapon that was recovered, has that been traced back to Mr. James at all? And is there any likelihood that -- or how confident are investigators that he is the same person that pulled the trigger today?
ESSIG: That`s -- pull -- as far as pulling the trigger, that is still under an investigation.
As far as the firearm is concerned, we know it`s not part of a multisale. We know it`s not stolen. We`re working with our partners in the ATF to track back to the point of sale and then move forward on that gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question.
QUESTION: Your physical description of James, does it match the description that`s already been put out today?
ESSIG: Again, as I said, we did -- there was two smoke grenades thrown. We have various descriptions of height. I gave the description out of the man with the vest.
We`re looking through all -- all possible leads on our person of interest.
MILLER: I think, if you look at our social media, you will see two photos of the person of interest.
All right, thank you very much.
ESSIG: Thank you, everyone.
SEWELL: Thank you.
REID: All right, that was the press conference out of New York about this Brooklyn shooting incident that left several people injured. Thankfully, no one was killed in this incident.
A few of the details that we saw. You can see there Frank James has been named as a person of interest. He has been connected to the U-Haul van that is somehow connected to this incident. He has residences, or at least has been traced to residences in Wisconsin and Philadelphia.
Person of interest does not mean he is necessarily the suspect, but he is somehow being traced to the vehicle that`s been traced to what happened and apparently rented that vehicle.
A few of the other things that came out of this, pieces of information, 13 people were injured from smoke inhalation, 10 people were injured by gunfire. And the shooter entered at the Kings Highway stop and was heading -- the train was heading into Manhattan when those shots rang out.
Marq Claxton, Frank Figliuzzi are back with me.
I want to also introduce Naveed Jamali, "Newsweek" editor at large and former FBI double agent.
And, Frank, I`m going to go right down the center of the screen to you and ask, listening to that, including the -- Mike Driscoll, who is the FBI man that is in charge of the federal part of this investigation, what did you take from that press conference and the information we heard?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, so some positive news, in addition to the fact that there have been no fatalities.
This investigation has progressed fairly rapidly. If they find this gentleman who rented the van, it`s likely they`re going to find the person who was the shooter, if, indeed, this person of interest is not the shooter. And we need to be very careful. And you saw the officials being very circumspect about saying he`s a person of interest. We don`t know the connection yet.
He could have unwittingly rented a van for somebody. He could have had the van stolen from him. We simply don`t know. We hope he`s OK, as a matter of fact. So we have got that.
We have also learned that there`s extended magazines, multiple extended magazines at the scene. What does that mean? In the state of New York, Joy, extended magazines, actually capacity of 10 rounds or more, are illegal.
So here we go with this whole gun discussion and parts discussion, and whether individual states should be doing their own thing or whether it should be nationalized in terms of this. But we need to trace that. ATF is going to be looking at that. It`s fantastic that the gun has been found.
What I`m not hearing is terrorism. What we`re seeing is a supportive approach from the FBI. They are not taking a lead on this. They`re supporting. That`s actually good news, in the sense that it`s less and less likely, right now, at least, that this was about terrorism.
Now, my ears perked up on this notion of social media reflecting it. And I wasn`t quite clear because of -- it wasn`t quite clear technically from hearing, but on social media, some kind of concerning posts about the mayor or others or New York in general. Something has caused the security detail to be augmented for the New York City mayor. That`s what I heard.
This guy, this shooter has probably had some kind of grievance that he`s brooded or obsessed with over time. We will see how that plays out.
REID: And I -- my ears perked up on that, too. And we did hear from the mayor, Naveed.
And he made this statement. He said ending gun violence means changing gun laws. He zeroed in on the 400 million guns in this country. And that was a lot of the focus of his comments, once his YouTube started to finally work.
Just give us your sense, what you heard, what you took from it, listening to all of these officials talking about this investigation.
NAVEED JAMALI, EDITOR AT LARGE, "NEWSWEEK": Well, sure.
So, for the mayoral race, I mean, one of the big hot-button topics was the iron -- so-called iron pipeline, right, this idea that getting guns off the streets is harder than it is to perhaps disrupt the flow of firearms, illegal firearms, into New York.
And look, Joy, there are other states that have far more lax laws in purchasing firearms. And, unfortunately, that could be a mechanism for firearms to flow into New York. Regardless of how this person of interest or the suspect actually acquired that firearm, there`s a clear problem with proliferation of firearms.
And it`s clearly something the mayor has talked about in his campaign. The other thing, just what Frank was saying, this idea of social media posts, what I am curious about is if this person of interest was known, potentially if he had had grievances and made posts prior to this, to the FBI.
Look, we saw this in the Seaside bombing, right? We saw -- we have seen this in the Pulse nightclub. And I`m not insinuating this is terrorism. But we have seen cases in the past where an individual has made threats, has come under suspicion by the FBI or other law enforcement officials.
And, frankly, because of the fact that we`re a constitutional country we have we have rights, there`s only so much that law enforcement can surveil someone. And so the big question I am leading with is, was this person known to law enforcement prior to this? Was this a known quantity?
And it appears that there may have been a history here. And so that is the big question going into this that I have.
REID: Very quickly, Frank, can you answer that question?
I mean, there are -- we -- you and I have talked about this before. When you have these incidents, because of the First Amendment, there are only so many -- there`s only so much that law enforcement can do to really legally surveil people. There have been some big issues with what seems to be, like, pretty openly anti-First Amendment surveillance of Muslim communities and other communities in the past in New York.
But there are some limits as to what, even if somebody is known to be egregious on social media, can be done at the federal level, right?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes, I think -- I hope we have all done a part in dispelling kind of this public myth that the FBI or Big Brother government is watching everybody`s e-mails, monitoring, everybody`s chat.
Simply isn`t happening. Now, the question Naveed is raising is not that was his chat monitored or his posting about -- but did somebody report him, where did he actually come on the radar screen officially? And I can assure you, the names are being traced right now in indices in various agencies, law enforcement agencies, to say, have we ever encountered this guy of interest or anybody he knows? Is there anything that looks like this in our records at all?
That`s going to come under scrutiny.
REID: Yes, indeed.
And, Marq, let me bring you back in here, because there are a lot of questions. Even my kids who live in New York were texting me this morning. I mean, the idea that the cameras weren`t working in that subway station, if anybody has seen the increase in fares in New York since when I was their age, and my kids, who are now in their 20s, it`s astronomical, the amount of money it costs to go -- to get on that those subway trains, the amount of money that`s poured into those subways, systems.
The idea that the cameras wouldn`t be working seems outrageous to folks. But I won`t make you comment on that.
But the idea also that there is this perception in a lot of these communities that there`s a lot of cops on the train, there are a lot of police there that are watching fare jumpers, et cetera. But there weren`t any officers deployed inside the subways.
Explain kind of how now that -- how the deployment of police actually works in the real world.
CLAXTON: I think one of the police officials actually touched on that, and when he clearly indicated that there weren`t police officers assigned to the particular subway station, but, rather, police officers are in and out of the subway station checking on a regular basis.
And I know part of the mayor`s plan and blueprint plan has been to increase the number of patrols in the various subway stations throughout the system. So, you have police officers who are assigned to transit who will be patrolling the entire system. You also have police officers who are up top, as they indicated, on the streets who will then go down into the subway systems and do canvasses and patrol as well.
So there is a healthy complement of police throughout the system now as a result of this most recent anti-crime initiative that Mayor Adams has instituted.
And to stay with you for a second, Marq, because this particular community, Sunset Park, it is known as Brooklyn`s Chinatown. We have seen these spikes in anti-Asian -- violence against Asian communities, particularly through the Trump era and pinning the pandemic on people of color, what the former president did.
So we have seen a lot of these really painful incidents. So this particular community has dealt with a lot of that. And I wonder if it surprises you that there haven`t been more deployments of police and of protection, because a lot of those incidents happen on the subways, specifically in communities that have large Asian American populations.
CLAXTON: I think there are units within the police department currently that are addressing the issues that deal with bias-related crimes, and they have increased resources themselves.
But I think the primary focus in the city right now is less on bias-related crimes, and those violent crimes that there are statistical increases in. I think the world, the nation is looking at the -- New York City and how they handle, address or at least pay attention to these issues of violence, particularly gun violence.
And I think that`s why the mayor`s statements appear to be more geared toward a national audience than just New York City. It wasn`t about just the response right now in New York to this particular case. It was more responsive about how we deal as a nation with the issues of gun possession and how we handle violence, violent crime that involves guns.
REID: Yes, indeed.
And, Naveed, I mean, clearly, gun violence is not a New York City-specific issue. It is all over the country. And, typically, New York City has been the safest big city in America for a very, very long time. And the dramatic reductions in crime have come, for better or for worse.
Some mayors have used some pretty questionable tactics to try to decrease gun violence. And some of those are being brought back by Mayor Adams.
But I wonder if you -- can you comment on this? Because we have seen increases in violent crime, not just in New York City, but in a lot of cities, since the pandemic. And I`m wondering if there`s a way that this investigation can also focus on that.
There have been a lot of mental health-related issues that are tied to this violence, including violence against Asian Americans. And I`m wondering if the response of these big cities has been sufficient, given all of those different factors?
JAMALI: Yes, well, let`s just -- I want to bifurcate just one thing here, the idea that, necessarily, mental illness is connected to violence.
I don`t want to stigmatize mental health.
REID: And we don`t know that that`s even -- right.
JAMALI: Yes, absolutely.
REID: We don`t even know that any of that is the case, yes, right.
JAMALI: And -- but I do want to say that, clearly, when it comes to mental health and mental illness, during the pandemic, we saw things like availability of medications, availability of clinics, just not being able to take people because they were closed because of the pandemic.
And that clearly, to some degree, had a spike in crime, in the sense that there were people who needed medication who just, in many cases, simply couldn`t get it.
Now, I`m not saying that that`s the case here.
JAMALI: But there is this larger problem with mental health in this country.
And I think we`re talking about homelessness. This is -- apparently, this person of interest is part of his grievance. It is worth discussing mental illness. And, look, Mayor Adams has made it one of the challenges for policing in the modern -- modern cities today is how to separate mental health data and how to tackle crime, and not to criminalize mental health.
And this is a real, real problem. So I do think it`s important to bifurcate that. But you`re right. There has been a spike. And part of it, I think, is, look, the fact that people have been locked down.
And when I was in Seattle, the one night that there was sort of this release, we saw the springing forth of the CHOP. So there is this part that I think is connected to this lockdown mentality. I don`t want to say that there`s a connection to some larger issue here. But we have also seen a spike in Asian American crimes, hate crimes.
So there`s all these things that come up. And mental health has always been the sort of thing that`s pretty -- stayed constant. And there`s never really been a good investment in this country in increasing mental health services.
And, clearly, one of the questions that Mayor Adams is going to have to tackle is, what is going to be the role for the NYPD in addressing mental health? And it`s going to be an ongoing challenge, I think, for Mayor Adams.
REID: And it`s been a challenge for police, Marq, to deal with mental health. It`s not been a strength of law enforcement.
I`m not just talking about in New York.
CLAXTON: Can I just add to that...
CLAXTON: ... and just say it`s interesting that we`re talking about that particular area, because part of one of the anti-crime initiatives directed in the subway system in New York by Mayor Adams is the incorporation of not only social workers, along with the -- embedded with police officers, but mental health professionals and other -- some other social services, in an attempt to make a significant outreach to those individuals who are either homeless on the subway stations or involved in other activities there.
So, that is, in fact, part of the current ongoing anti-crime strategy directed in the subway system.
REID: Yes, absolutely.
Marq Claxton, Frank Figliuzzi, Naveed Jamali, they`re going to all three stick around.
And up next on THE REIDOUT, much more on today`s breaking news out of Brooklyn, which is reminding a lot of New Yorkers of a different era, when crime on the subway was rampant.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
REID: When New Yorkers of a certain age talk about the bad old days, they`re often talking about the 1970s and `80s, a very different era for the now glittering and largely gentrified metropolis of today. The city was besieged by poverty and teetering on bankruptcy.
Times Square, which today looks like a digital Disneyland, was the epicenter of the sex industry, while, in the late 1970s serial killer David Berkowitz, known as the Son of Sam, terrorized the city, killing six people and injuring at least seven others along the way.
The subways were different and looked different too, tagged with graffiti, filled with character, yes, but also with grime and a heavy police presence. There was a grit, but also a sense of danger. Crack cocaine and heroin infested the city, driving the crime rate even higher, with much of that crime occurring on the subways, as noted in this clip from "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS" in 1985.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The New York subway system, that Bernard Goetz case, the Subway Shooter, has given the subways fresh notoriety.
To many outsiders, even to many who live here, this is an area where fear prevails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: In case you missed it, Tom Brokaw referred to the Subway Shooter known as Bernard Goetz.
He was also known as the Subway Vigilante, after shooting and injuring four young black men on a train in Manhattan after guests said they were trying to rob him. This was a huge case that garnered international attention. One of those teens was permanently paralyzed, but Goetz was still acquitted of four attempted murder charges and convicted only of carrying an unlicensed handgun.
He served eight months in prison, eight months.
New York eventually climbed out of that difficult era for many reasons, from falling unemployment in the 1990s, to shifting patterns of drug use, and also gun control. New York state and New York City today have some of the strictest rules for gun ownership in the country.
And fast-forward to literally today, when panic on the New York City subway brought back those bad old memories.
Marq Claxton, Frank Figliuzzi and Marq -- and Naveed Jamali are all still with me.
And, Marq, I want to go to you, because I am -- I`m old enough to remember some of that era. I moved back as a teenager in the 1980s. I was -- OK, obviously, I was 2 years old, but I moved back. And I somewhat remember it for whatever reason.
REID: But, I mean, the 1980s was different, getting on the subways.
I remember going up to see my godmother in the Bronx. There was a different vibe and a different kind of fear. There was a lot more open drug use. You would see the heroin man leaning over. You thought it was going to fall off the L Train. And there just was a certain more dangerous sense that the men would try to rub up on you in the train.
You had so many more dangers, especially as a young woman. And there was a lot of work put into making New York safe and making New York safer. And one of the big changes were the gun laws. And it is all the way illegal to have a firearm, an open firearm in New York City, except for a few instances.
So what do you make of the fact that we are now seeing this sort of spasm of gun violence, to the point where that is, in a way, what elected the current mayor, Eric Adams?
CLAXTON: Well, first off, let me just say that I remember all of that era.
CLAXTON: And thanks for making me feel...
REID: You were 4, and I was 2. We`re going to work that, yes. Yes.
CLAXTON: I joined the police department in 1985 there. So that kind of gives you an indication of my age.
But it was a different time, a very different time, a significant shift. We were right at the beginning of somewhat of a shift in the approach to policing, if you will. The climate, the tone and tenor of the city was vastly different. Tolerance was very different.
Police enforcement at that time, at that point was significantly less. It was right at the time where I joined the police department, moving into the `90s, where there became a shift to become more proactive and much more aggressive styles of policing.
And that`s when you ran into the -- more of the complications when you dealt with issues of constitutional protections and rights, et cetera. There was a period of time when, at least on paper, gun possession had mandatory minimums. But the reality of it -- and I remember this time specifically. I was in anti-crime in Harlem for a period of time as well, before leading into narcotics division.
On paper, there were mandatory minimums. The reality of it is that very few people who were found in possession of those weapons actually did the time that was one of the books that they should have had -- should have done.
But there`s always been an issue with the gun violence in the city. It`s been managed somewhat much better in the -- over the past 15 years or so. But it appears that a lot of the old dangers are creeping their way back into the city. And unless you have innovative, outside-of-the-box thinking and tactics and focus, you can find yourself back into that situation quite rapidly.
REID: Yes, indeed.
And I think you might have served at the same time as my godbrother. We are going to have to talk offline. He joined the force, I believe, in 1990, joined the NYPD.
And, Frank, walk us through how you go from -- if you have -- from the federal level, from the FBI level, if you have the firearm, and you have the magazines, walk us from there to how you find the person, because, as we understand this person is a person of interest. That doesn`t mean they did it.
And I think it`s very important. We keep showing that man`s picture. It doesn`t mean he necessarily did it. It means that they`re looking to talk to him. But how does the -- how do these investigations proceed at the federal level, since the FBI is helping? What would they be doing right now?
FIGLIUZZI: Yes, FBI and ATF particularly here, where the gun is concerned.
REID: And ATF.
FIGLIUZZI: So, there is a treasure -- there`s a treasure trove that`s been found at this crime scene.
I mean, the gas mask is going to have fingerprints, even possibly -- think about taking on and off a gas mask. You`re bringing hair and fiber, even perspiration. You`re putting your fingers on it. You`re leaving a trail.
Now let`s go to the gun. Again, we have got a Glock brand. So it`s not a ghost gun. It`s going to have a serial number. It`s going to be traced. We heard at the press conference that they don`t believe it was stolen. Even better. So there`s going to be some track record here of where it came from, who purchased it, fairly easily traced, we hope.
The 30-some-odd shell casings found on the scene, all, again, going to be tied to the gun, to the person, perhaps through fingerprints, extended magazines. This is going to be a solid prosecution once they find this suspect.
But I think there`s a -- there`s a larger issue going on here, which is we have got New York state -- and I can tell you -- I will bet you dollars to doughnuts, if we flipped over to another certain network, Joy, they`re going to be saying right now, see that? See, New York has these really strict gun laws. And, see, it happened there. So gun laws are stupid.
And so I`m here to tell you that, no. No, actually, if you look at the data, states in this country that have those stricter gun laws tend to have less gun crime. It`s actually -- that`s the way it works. The problem is when guns enter from somewhere else.
FIGLIUZZI: And so it`s an argument for having federal laws across the board to restrict guns to people, only people who should have them, and not those who should not.
And the fact that these Glocks, these guns have those serial numbers. And in some places, you try to be slick and rub it off and try to shave it off, it`s in two places on some of these Glocks. Like, you can -- you can find, you can trace a gun back to who sold it. Thank God that we have those serial numbers and that it`s traceable, and that it makes it possible for law enforcement to do their job.
And, Naveed, I bet, if we shift to another network, they`re also going to be making some very interesting conversations, obviously, about New York. But the reality is, this is a national crisis. And gun violence is a national crisis, because they aren`t saying that when little kids get shot up in school, which is also being done using firearms.
So I wonder what the conversation is. Eric Adams wants to make this a national conversation about gun violence. And so let`s have -- let`s give him that, because it is in a -- if a state like New York that has very strict rules -- I have sat on a grand jury -- you will go to jail for having a gun in New York that you`re not licensed to have.
If even New York City is dealing with this kind of a crisis, what do the rest of us do?
JAMALI: Yes, this is -- look, there`s -- we are in an age of data.
And so the idea that we`re going to trace this gun back and whoever had it illegally is going to be prosecuted, of course, that`s incredibly important.
But here`s the part we very rarely go after. And that is to look at the date of where that gun came from. Did it come from a gun show? Did it come from one person who habitually happens to have guns stolen from them? And why isn`t that person being investigated? Why isn`t that person being prosecuted?
Why isn`t the NYPD going and parking out front of gun shows and starting to take your license plates down of people who are coming from New York to purchase guns out of state? Look, if we can send NYPD officers out of the country to help in counterterrorism, we should be doing the same here.
And you`re exactly right. We can talk about federal legislation, but the reality is that we`re never going to have universal federal legislation when it comes to gun things. And it`s going to be up to the cities and the states to solve this.
And if New York City is suffering from the proliferation of guns flowing through the iron pipeline, then New York City should be proactive, as Mayor Adams has indicated he would be, in disrupting that iron pipeline, going to the places where those guns are purchased, looking to prosecute people who are buying guns and then selling them that are used in crimes in New York City.
JAMALI: It`s not just the gun user. We have to go after the gun seller.
REID: Maybe we should do like California and start to use those "You can sue someone to get the outcomes you want" Texas plan and start to use that for firearms.
And California is innovating that. We should think about it.
Marq Claxton, Frank Figliuzzi, Naveed Jamali, appreciate you all.
We will be right back.
REID: And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.
Stick around for much more on the breaking news out of Brooklyn.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.