Pregnant Brooklyn subway shooting victim recalls ‘death trap’

The pregnant woman injured when a maniac terrorized Brooklyn straphangers on a morning rush-hour train Tuesday described the chaotic scene as a “death trap” and an “absolute nightmare.” 

The 28-year-old — a medical clinician who works in downtown Brooklyn and only wanted to be identified by her first name, Chelsea — was initially believed to have been shot in the leg, but was actually trampled during the mayhem that unfolded on a Manhattan-bound N train around 8:30 a.m. 

“I couldn’t sleep,” Chelsea told The Post in an exclusive phone interview. “Every time I close my eyes, it’s all I can see, it’s all I can think about.”

“It’s an absolute nightmare. It’s a scary thing to go through in any kind of circumstance — being pregnant [makes me even] more vulnerable … We’re all just trying to get somewhere.”

“No one should have to experience that,” she added. “The worst part is there’s nowhere to run. It’s a death trap. None of the doors open.”

Chelsea told The Post she was running behind schedule Tuesday morning after dropping her 7-year-old daughter off at school, and hopped on an R train at 95th Street in Bay Ridge around 8:10 a.m. 

Seven minutes later, she transferred to an N train at 59th Street.

The man wanted in connection to the attack, Frank R. James, 62, was initially named as a person of interest, but was since reclassified as a suspect.
The man wanted in connection with the attack, Frank R. James, 62, was initially named as a person of interest, but was since reclassified as a suspect.

“I got on and said, ‘What are the odds? There’s a seat,’” Chelsea said. “So I sat down and I put my headphones on and started listening to music.”

“I’m getting ready for the five minutes it takes to get from 59th Street to Atlantic Avenue,” she said. “And the train doors closed, and it wasn’t even like 15 seconds — I would say we barely pulled out of the station and [someone] yelled — I don’t know if it was [the suspect] or someone else that yelled: ‘Oh, s—!’ It was a scream-yell, and it was louder than my music.”

“I turn my head,” she said through tears. “I turn my head and I see he has these smoke canisters. He opened it up and the smoke was pouring out of the canisters. I thought it was someone playing a prank or doing something r——d — I never expected it being what it actually ended up being. The smoke just started to fill the car. Everyone started screaming and yelling.”

While all this was going on, Chelsea said, the train was stalled between the 59th and 36th Street stations, “because in typical MTA fashion there’s a delay for some reason.”

Get the latest updates in the Brooklyn subway shooting with The Post’s live coverage.

“Everyone is screaming, is running to the other car and the door doesn’t open, and we were banging on the door for the people in the other car to open the door for us,” she said. “Smoke filled [the car] and … he was just letting off the gunshots.” 

Some wounded straphangers cried out, “I’m hit!” as others desperately tried to make sure their fellow commuters protected themselves, Chelsea recalled. 

“Cover your heads! Cover your chest! Get cover!” they cried, according to Chelsea. 

A bag full of fireworks recovered at the scene in the Brooklyn subway station where several people were injured ina a shooting and explosion Tuesday, April, 12, 2022.
A bag full of fireworks recovered in the Brooklyn subway station where several people were injured in the shooting on April, 12, 2022.

“Then there was a moment, a pause and we don’t know if that’s when his gun jammed,” she said. “I can’t tell you how long this went on for. It felt like a lifetime. This is all while we’re stuck between stations.”

Chelsea said she finally saw an opening under one of the seats in the car, but couldn’t get her whole body through it. 

“People were trying to help me,” she said. “A guy, I don’t know who he is, he tried to help me —- everybody else was panicked. And I’m yelling, ‘I’m pregnant!’”

“You can’t be mad — everyone is trying to survive,” she said. “You can’t be mad. It’s pure chaos. It’s absolutely terrible. I fell down [on] my knee twice. It’s absolutely terrible.”

As soon as the doors opened, straphangers frantically ran off the train, Chelsea said. 

The pregnant victim called the insane scene a “death trap.”
Facebook/Armen Armenian

“I was missing my shoe,” she said. “I have severe OCD and even in the midst of the chaos — I couldn’t find my shoe — it was honestly the most traumatic of things.”

“There’s blood all over me,” she said. “I didn’t know, being pregnant, if it was coming from me or someone else.”

Chelsea suffered a knee injury and was treated at Kings County Hospital Center, according to police sources. 

Throughout the pandemonium, Chelsea said, she kept thinking about her daughter — and prayed for a chance to see her again. 

“I said, ‘God, I have to get home to my baby,’” she said. “I was just thinking about my kid the whole time.”

Chelsea said she wants to see additional safety measures in the city’s subway system — including a bigger police presence and metal detectors in the stations — but she is not sure whether either of those options would have made a difference Tuesday. 

“I wish, honestly — and I don’t know if it’s a possibility for us — to have more police at every single station,” she said. “I think that would make us a lot safer, especially because people are getting on the subway with all sorts of things.”

There were 29 injuries stemming from the incident.
There were 29 injuries stemming from the incident.
Will B Wylde via AP

“In some ways, yes we do need more police, but let’s say someone bypasses that — no matter what, you’re trapped on that train car,” Chelsea added. “There is no emergency exit. And if the train is stuck underground, which we all know happens on a regular basis, what are the conductors going to do realistically with an active shooter? Call into the station? You’re just dead.”

“Listen, if we could have metal decorators so people can go through and be screened, but can you screen for the things this guy had yesterday?” she questioned. “Like maybe open your bag.”

“This is a reiteration of the fact we live in such a big city that New York City is always a target for these things,” she said. 

Mayor Eric Adams vowed to double the number of NYPD officers on the subway system in the wake of the bloodshed. 

A total of 29 straphangers were hurt during the bloodbath — 10 of whom were shot. 

Those who were shot included three women between the ages of 41 and 49, and seven men between the ages of 15 and 41, the NYPD said Wednesday morning.

Emergency personnel gather at the entrance to a subway stop in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. A gunman filled a rush-hour subway train with smoke and shot multiple people Tuesday, leaving wounded commuters bleeding on a platform as others ran screaming, authorities said.
Emergency personnel gather near the scene of the Brooklyn subway shooting.
John Minchillo/AP

Children and teens — ages 12, 13, 16 and 18 — were also hurt in the fracas, Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Tuesday night from Maimonides Medical Center, where many of the victims were being treated. 

The man wanted in connection to the savage attack, Frank R. James, 62, was initially named as a person of interest, but was reclassified as a suspect Wednesday, officials said.

The upgrade in James’ status was “based on new information that has become available to the team,” Adams told WNYC radio.

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