New York City is already nervous about rising gun violence, lawlessness and hate crimes. Then there was the attack on the Brooklyn subway on Tuesday, in which a masked suspect detonated two smoke bombs and shot and killed 10 people during the morning rush hour.

On Wednesday morning, police upgraded Frank James, a black man who ranted about race online, to the official suspect. He remains at large and his exact motives are unknown.

But his attack appeared to be orchestrated to unsettle a city where public safety has become a top concern for residents and businesses still struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

It happened on the subway, an essential vehicle for urban workers, but also increasingly becoming the Warren of homelessness, mental illness, and senseless violence. The city’s new mayor, Eric Adams, who started his career as a transit cop, specifically made tackling crime and safety on the subway one of his top priorities.

In a sign of the city’s overlapping crisis, Adams was unable to visit the crime scene on Tuesday because he was quarantining with Covid-19. He eventually recorded a statement in which he vowed: “We will not allow New Yorkers to be intimidated, even by one person.”

Even more frightening, the attack took place in a Brooklyn neighborhood with a large Asian-American community whose ranks have recently suffered a disproportionate burden of hate crimes. Many are still traumatized by the February murder of Christina Yuna Lee, a woman who was stabbed 40 times by a homeless intruder after returning from a night out repeatedly.

People lay injured at the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn, New York © Armen Armenian/Reuters

To evoke shock and fear, Tuesday’s attack transcended the line between New Yorkers.

“I don’t feel safe anymore. I carry pepper spray with me because that’s all I can do,” said Maria Keller, who works at the UMK Brooklyn grocery store on Fourth Avenue and 35th Street half a block from the shooting Say.

Keller, who has lived in the city since 1984, said recently: “The city feels like it’s back in the 80s. I don’t take the subway anymore, maybe once a month. When [Mayors Rudy] Giuliani and [Michael] Bloomberg is responsible for what they are doing well. I felt like I could go to the subway and even fall asleep. But now it’s too dangerous. “

In the aftermath, politicians who have grown more sophisticated in public condemnation of the violence in recent months appeared to be more emphatic and emotional than usual.

“No more mass shootings. No more disrupting lives. No more heartbreak for those who just want to live like regular New Yorkers. It has to end, and it has to end now,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochle said .

Jumaane Williams, a public advocate for the city, noted that a colleague of his was on a train when the attack took place. “It’s not summer, and we’re dealing with this kind of violence,” he said, acknowledging that shootings in New York tend to increase with warmer temperatures.

Show map taken at 36th Street Station in New York

Like other big U.S. cities, there were mass protests in New York following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis two years ago. State legislatures have also implemented criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the prison population.

Now, the political winds appear to be shifting, or at least easing. In November, New Yorkers elected Adams, a former police captain whose commitment to curbing crime was a cornerstone of his campaign. He has since sent the controversial anti-crime unit back to the streets to crack down on the gun trade, including the proliferation of hard-to-trace “ghost” guns. He also revived some of the aggressive “broken windows” policing tactics popularized by Giuliani in the 1990s.

Crime rates are still well below levels seen in past generations. Last year, the city recorded 485 murders, up from 2,262 in 1990.

However, since the pandemic, trends have gone in the wrong direction. According to the NYPD, shootings are up 8 percent so far this year and more than 72 percent from two years ago.

The subway has been a particular focus. It featured deadly hate crimes in which Asian-Americans were attacked and even thrust into orbit.

Like grocery store worker Keller, many New Yorkers stayed away. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, ridership in the most recent week was only 56% to 58% of pre-pandemic levels.

Some business leaders now see the subway — not Covid-19 — as the biggest obstacle to convincing employees to return to the office, threatening the livelihoods of the city itself after the pandemic.

A recent survey of 9,400 Manhattan office workers by NYC Partners, a group of business executives, found that more than 80 percent rely on public transportation to commute and that public safety, not health, is their top priority. Overriding attention.

“Every New Yorker can identify with those who were caught by gunmen in subway cars,” said Kathryn Wilder, president of the partnership. “It puts people in a moment of high anxiety, which will amplify the response.”

Attorney Richard Aborn, chairman of the Citizens Crime Commission, a nonprofit focused on public safety, was reluctant to come to a conclusion in the hunt for the suspect.

“What we do know is that this is going to significantly increase insecurities on the subway at a time when the city is doing its best to get people back on the subway system,” he said. Aborn called the attack “sowing fear across the city. type of random attack”.

In Sunset Park, the diverse working-class neighborhood where the attack took place, multiple business owners and local residents said they had noticed an increase in homelessness and eccentric behavior in recent years.

“You’re going to see more homeless and weird people around, but you never know if they’re going to break down,” said Tony Tan, the half behind Jack & Tony’s auto repair shop on Fourth Avenue, just North of the attack.

Josh Taylor, a 20-year-old resident of Midwood, Brooklyn, said he adopted two pit bulls last year to protect his mother at home while he was away.

“You have to do it at this point,” Taylor replied when asked if he planned to change his behavior in light of Tuesday’s attack. “What do not you know [the shooter] With him, you don’t know who’s around him. If you throw a cigarette in the subway, you’re trying to create chaos.”