A man who was shot as a gunman rampaged through the New York Subway has recalled the moment the bullet ripped through his leg as he helped a pregnant woman to safety.
Hourari Benkada, a housekeeping manager at the New Yorker Hotel, said he was even sat beside the assailant, whom police are yet to apprehend, for a time – before he opened fire on innocent commuters on the city's N Line.
The 27-year-old said the shooter was wearing an MTA high visibility vest and was carrying a duffel bag.
“This makes me want to never ride a train ever again in my life,” Benkada told CNN via FaceTime.
“I was on 59th Street on the ART train transferring to the N train on 59th. It was the first car, last seats. And I’m just not paying attention to that so I just walked in and sat down. The guy is next to me but I didn’t get a glimpse of his face.”
Police haven't arrested anyone yet for the attack that took place 8:30am local time on Tuesday, seconds after the train left the station.
Frank James, 62, has been named as a person of interest after keys found at the crime scene were found to belong to a rental truck taken out under his name in Philadelphia.
Benkada said: “I don’t even know how I’m holding my phone” as he recounted what happened next.
“All you see is black smoke after the smoke bomb went off. People bum-rushing to the back,” he told CNN.
“About 10 shots went off. I think the gun jammed. I think he had an extended clip or something because I’ve never heard that many shots come off a handgun. It sounded like the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
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Benkada said his main priority was helping a hurt pregnant woman get off the train as the threat of a stampede loomed.
“The worst pain of my entire life. I was just so shocked that the pain didn’t hit me until after," he said of the moment he was shot.
The bullet hit him in the back of his knee and came out the other side, grazing his knee on the way. Docs said he is expected to be able to walk on his own after several weeks on crutches.
Police said that the gunman was able to fire off 33 shots, striking 10 people aboard the Manhattan-bound N train as it pulled into the 36th Street station in Sunset Park.
Five riders were critically wounded in the rush-hour attack, and more were injured in the chaos that followed. No fatalities were reported.
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