Police say they were called to the train station at 110th Street and Lenox Avenue for an assault on the platform, but the fears over a possible gun were unfounded. Still, the panic people felt was real, and experts say that keen awareness means terror is on the rise among New Yorkers following recent horrific events.
"I'm like, oh my God, please don't let it be gunshots," one woman said. "Like we don't need this right now."
The chaotic chain reaction quickly spread through the station when a small fight near the No. 2 train platform ended with the false alarm.
"I look out, and everyone from the back of the train started running toward the front of the train," witness Jessica Shockness said. "Everyone is like, 'get out, get out the car.'"
Fearing for their lives, witnesses say everyone aboard the packed train spilled onto the platform and up through the turnstiles, desperately pushing and trampling each other as they tried to escape.
"It was chaos," witness Yael Leberman said. "There were people tripping. There were people getting trampled on. There was a little girl trying to get up the stairs, and her dad was covering her."
Police confirm there were no shots fired, but several people were treated for minor injuries following the melee.
"I was like, oh my God, I thought my life was just going to be over," witness Lessley Rolon said. "It was scary. It's still scary right now."
(Photo courtesy @NatashaSAlford)
It was a hysterical scene Dr. Harris Stratyner attributes to New Yorkers becoming more sensitized and, in some cases, traumatized in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre and other acts of terror around the globe.
"We have to be very cognizant that we're living in a world that is dangerous, and we have to be aware of it," Dr. Stratyner said. "But we let let it paralyze us. That's where it really makes a leap if we become paralyzed, and we're afraid to right the subway. Then the bad guys win."
Police do have a man in custody they believe is connecting to the initial fight on the platform, and they're still searching for another.