NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man held an empty train car hostage Wednesday morning, shutting down subway service for an hour and a half.
CBS2’s Jessica Moore spoke to one of the passengers impacted.
“I was on the J train and when we pulled into Chamber Street they said everybody off because of an unruly passenger at Broad Street,” said Ty Turner of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Turner was one of thousands of commuters left stranded when an emotionally disturbed man armed with a wooden paddle barricaded himself inside a motorman’s car on a southbound J train in lower Manhattan.
“The train system hasn’t gotten any better. It has gotten worse. The mentally challenged and homeless have taken over,” Turner said.
The train was at Broad Street at around 9 a.m., the last stop on the J line.
“The train is being cleaned out at that stop, so the motorman or conductor goes car to car making sure there are no passengers on the train,” said Eric Loegel of the Transport Workers Union. “In the course of doing that they saw this man who had barricaded himself in one of the cabs.”
Police spent an hour and a half negotiating with the man to come out.
Meanwhile, service on the J line was abruptly halted.
The transit union said electricity had to be turned off during the entire 90-minute ordeal just in case the man tried to run away down the tracks.
Police said the incident was one of three subway disruptions by emotionally disturbed persons on Wednesday, alone, and overall for 2021 felony assaults on the subway are up 40%.
“It’s not like it used to be. People are … you can see that they’re afraid,” one rider said.
“It’s crazy, but it’s all too common,” Loegel added. “We just don’t think this mayor takes the problem seriously enough. He is going around saying everything is fine, but the riders know different.”
A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s office told CBS2, “Subway crime is at record lows and we’re going to keep working on making trains safer and safer.”
But riders and transit workers say that is simply not true.
The man was taken to Bellevue Hospital to be evaluated. No one was injured.