A man swinging a chain in the 103rd street subway station scared commuters on Monday morning, according to witnesses. Authorities have not released any information about the incident.
We received the initial report from reader Ernie Fritz that a man with a chain and a knife had scared dozens of subway riders out of the station.
Fritz said that the man was frightening people:
“I came late to the scene, but according to the ticket booth guy, he also had a knife and was threatening people. My wife, who was there earlier, said that people were running out of the station, so I assume he was really scaring people. I did see the chain on the ground when the police had him on the ground and it was a large, heavy length of chain about 5-6 feet and it had random bolts and other things attached to it. When the EMS showed up, they took the guy into an ambulance and it appeared from the expression on their faces that they might have been familiar with this character before.”
Another witness, who asked not to be identified, told us that the man did not appear to be directly threatening anyone.
“Was there for this incident, yesterday, about 8:25am.
Got on the 1 train while it was in the station. Down the train I saw groups of people run out of one of the cars. Couldn’t really see what was happening, initial thought was that someone had a weapon like a gun or knife. Crowd reacted with those running and a large number of people fled off of the train to the upper part of the station. I heard a couple of people on their phones calling 911 and describing someone on the train threatening others.
After that we could hear and the man yelling unintelligible things and swinging a chain with what looked to be a duct tape heavy ball or large padlock on the end. He was swinging it around, hit it into a few things, trashcans, etc. while yelling.
He began walking up the stairs to the upper part and eventually out in front of the attendant booth. The whole time he was yelling and swinging the chain periodically, hitting into things. I never saw him actively try and hurt anyone.
Police officers entered from the west side of the station and began talking to the man. Credit to the officers who were extremely calm and tried to engage him in a discussion.
The man appeared to be homeless, and likely mentally ill, based on appearance. He was carrying a bag of some kind and yelling, from what I could tell, about money or his Metrocard.
At this point most riders went back downstairs and got on the train.”
We checked with the 24th precinct and with the MTA, but officials from both said they had no information. Captain Marlon Larin from the 24th said the transit police had responded to the incident. But the transit police never responded to our inquiry, and a spokesman at police headquarters also had no information.