Brooklyn subway terror is a tragic reminder of our leaders’ failures

The one mercy of Tuesday’s shooting aboard a Manhattan-bound subway car is that, as of this writing, none of the victims has died. While many face lasting physical and emotional trauma, by some miracle the mad gunman’s Glock jammed before he killed any of his targets.

Other New Yorkers, however, were not so lucky. While the city’s eyes were turned to Sunset Park, three people were killed in separate shootings in The Bronx, and 13 others were wounded across The Bronx and Brooklyn in a roughly six-hour span. The injured included a 15-year-old girl, a child caught up in adults’ war.

Such violence is no longer unusual in New York — it is the norm. Tuesday’s massacre was, in more ways than one, a perfect example of how far the city has slipped over the past two years. Though the tragedy is unique, it is yet another punishing reminder of the safety New Yorkers have been forced to surrender and the failures of their leaders to stem the bleeding.

This week’s violence is what many New Yorkers — especially those in the poorest, blackest and most gang-infested neighborhoods — have had to live with for two years. Murders are up 18% from where they were two years ago, while shootings have spiked more than 70%. There is little reason to believe the problem will abate any time soon: Mayor Eric Adams, who was elected by citizens concerned about crime, is confronting criticism for the continued skyrocketing of violence.

The Brooklyn subway shooting is an example of senseless and violent crime on the rise in New York City.
AP/John Minchillo
Frank James is arrested April 13, 2022.
Frank James was arrested April 13, 2022, more than 24 hours after he allegedly fired upon unsuspecting straphangers.
GC Images

The alleged shooter, Frank James, was apparently also a serial offender, with nine prior arrests in New York and three in New Jersey alone. Thanks to the leniency of the state’s criminal-justice laws, especially the hotly contested bail reform, such offenders cycle on and off the street, with New Yorkers facing ever-escalating crimes while activist district attorneys turn a blind eye.

Transit crime, too, has become a massive problem, even as the de Blasio administration tried to downplay it. While the Adams administration has promised more cops underground, transit offenses remain up 70% over last year, and only one in four riders reports feeling safe in the subway — a number that surely fell further after Tuesday. Why should they feel safe when subway pushings make the headlines every month?

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

Although the alleged shooter’s motives remain unclear, the racist and anti-Semitic rants that filled his social media suggest Tuesday’s attack may also have been part of New York’s recent wave of hate crimes. The city saw as many hate crimes last year as it did at the 1990s peaks. While Adams promised “zero tolerance” for these offenses, there is still no clarity from his office about how he will make Jewish and Asian New Yorkers feel safe from deranged bigots.

The problem goes deeper than the criminal-justice system, though. The shooter is plainly seriously mentally ill, the kind of person the city might have been able to help with more treatment beds and more aggressive use of mandatory treatment; the kind of person the de Blasio administration scrupulously avoided mentioning in its messaging on mental illness.

Emergency personnel gather at the entrance to a subway stop in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
The Brooklyn subway shooting was just one of several to occur on April 12.
AP/John Minchillo

The only real surprise, then, is that a shooting like Tuesday’s didn’t happen sooner. Let it be a wake-up call to New York’s leaders about how far conditions in the city have deteriorated. Though this shooting caught headlines, the dozens that don’t still take lives that matter: For them, and for all New Yorkers, a safer city is needed now.

Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor at City Journal.

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