Hourari Benkada sat next to the shooter and was listening to music. He didn't pay much attention to him.
One heroic man shielded a pregnant woman during the New York City shooting, possibly saving her life. Hourari Benkada "hugged" the woman to protect her, and was shot in the process.
Benkada was in the New York City subway during morning rush hour when the shooter set off smoke bombs before firing shots. At least 10 people were shot. As the chaos unfolded, Benkada saw a vulnerable pregnant woman and shielded her from any potential harm, reported Yahoo News. “All you see is smoke, black smoke bomb going off, and then people bum rushing to the back. This pregnant woman was in front of me. I was trying to help her,” Benkada told CNN's John Berman.
“I didn’t know there were shots at first, I just thought it was a black smoke bomb. She said, ‘I’m pregnant with a baby.’ I hugged her, and then the bum rush continued. I got pushed, and that’s when I got shot in the back of my knee,” he said. The gunman wore a gas mask before deploying a gas canister and shooting 33 times. Benkada was shot in the leg and he described it as the worst pain he’s ever felt in his life. “It’s an old-style train, you can’t switch cars,” said Benkada. “Somebody broke the first door down and the second door was really hard to break, and I was just focused on the pregnant woman. And that’s when I got struck in the leg, man. I was just on my way to work.”
Benkada also revealed that he was sitting next to the gunman before the incident. He didn't get a look at the man as he was preoccupied with his phone and listening to music through his headphone. After the cops named 62-year-old Frank James as a suspect and shared pictures of the man, Benkada said he couldn't tell as he didn't notice the man. “I’m not really sure. I wasn’t able to see his face,” Benkada replied when asked if he recognized the suspect from police photos. “He had a mask on.”
The suspect Frank James was arrested in New York's East Village neighborhood after police received a tip. New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that "we got him" at a news conference, reported CNN. The motive of the shooter remains unknown. James was arrested following a manhunt after authorities recovered a U-Haul van in Brooklyn, which they believed was rented by the suspect. He has been charged with violating a law that prohibits terrorist and other violent attacks against a mass transportation system, as per the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York. James will face multiple counts, including the use of a dangerous weapon to cause death and serious injury to passengers and employees on the New York subway system. He faces life imprisonment if convicted.
The suspect also called in a tip of himself. The suspect called in a tip to Crime Stoppers that eventually helped capture him. Frank James reportedly told the police he was at a McDonald’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He wasn't there at the location but as they drove around, they saw him near St. Marks Place and 1st Avenue and arrested him. New York Governor Kathy Hochul pledged to continue her fight to implement gun control. She said, "My heart is with all those who are injured, their loved ones, and the entire Sunset Park community. The epidemic of gun violence that continues to terrorize communities across this country must end. My pledge to New Yorkers is this: I will fight every day to restore public safety, get guns off our streets, and prevent these horrific acts of violence."
Cover image source: YouTube/CNN