Murders are rare on the city’s buses and subways. Three people have been killed in the transit system this year, compared with four at this time last year, according to the most recent police statistics.
Major felony crime on buses and subways represents just 2 percent of overall city crime. But it is at the same level as before the pandemic, though ridership is 40 percent lower. And a succession of highly visible, random attacks — including the mass shooting on the N train and the shoving death of a woman in the Times Square station in January, has fueled a sense of chaos and lawlessness in a system indispensable to the life and economy of the city.
On Sunday afternoon, the train on which the shooting occurred was still stopped in the Canal Street station. Three uniformed police officers were guarding the last car, which was partitioned with yellow police tape strung between handrails.
Social media users described seeing the shots fired and people running off the train after the late-morning shooting.
Matthew Chavan, 32, of Brooklyn, said he was on the train headed to brunch with a companion when it stopped at Canal Street. He was seated in the third car from the front of the train when he noticed that people getting off the train suddenly stopped. There was yelling, and people started running toward the exits, he said.
The car he was in started to clear out, and he and his companion ran up to the street.
“We were asked what was going on, and my response was people don’t run for no reason,” he said.
K. Arsenault Rivera, 30, an author, said she was on the train, headed to Penn Station, where she planned to transfer on her way to a friend’s baby shower in New Jersey.
When the train pulled into Canal Street, she said, tension was in the air. She was sitting toward the front of the train when several people got up and moved.
She realized something was wrong when several people started filing off the train. Rumors of a gun sighting reached her car as people stood in the doorway filming with their phones.