Man shot in Brooklyn subway attack says he 'hugged' a pregnant woman to protect her

On Anderson Cooper 360 Tuesday, John Berman, filling in for Cooper who is out with COVID, spoke to Hourari Benkada, who was shot when a gunman set off smoke bombs and opened fire on a New York City subway during morning rush hour. Benkada, speaking from his hospital bed, said he was shot while trying to shield a pregnant woman as chaos erupted around him.

“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 said. “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.”

Benkada said it’s the worst pain he’s ever felt in his life. He also elaborated on the fight to escape the shooter, who reportedly fired 33 times.

“It’s an old-style train, you can’t switch cars.” Benkada said. “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.”

This is Frank James who is a person of interest in this investigation. Any information can be directed to @NYPDTips at 800-577-TIPS.

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 12, 2022

Benkada said he was seated next to the gunman before the incident, but had his headphones in and was looking at his phone, and never got a good look at the man next to him. The police have named 62-year-old Frank James as a suspect, and posted pictures of him on Twitter. But unfortunately, Benkada couldn’t say for sure whether James was the man on the train.

“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.”

Anderson Cooper 360 airs weeknights at 8 p.m. on CNN.

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