MTA workers honored for saving lives during 36th Street subway shooting attack

April 15, 2022 Jaime DeJesus
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Mayor Eric Adams, speaking virtually at a ceremony at City Hall, honored subway workers who helped save the lives of those shot in the subway shooting attack in Sunset Park during a ceremony on Friday, April 15.

During the conference, he acknowledged, with proclamations, R-train operator Joseph Franchi, R-train conductor Dayron Williams, N-train conductor Raven Hayes, N-train operator David Artis, R-train operator Michael Catalano, R-train conductor Willy Sanchez and the B37 bus operator Parla Mejia.

“When our city was attacked Tuesday morning, you risked real danger to save the lives of everyday New Yorkers,” Adams, who was still in quarantine, said via the screen. “Your actions are indicative of what’s great about the service that you deliver every day in general, more specifically the service you deliver during times of crises. 

“As a former transit police officer, I witnessed throughout the years how often you rise to the occasion during difficult times. You all personified what’s great about our subway system and our MTA system overall,” he added.

On Tuesday, April 12, police said Frank James, 62, set off smoke grenades in a packed subway car approaching the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, then fired at least 33 shots with a 9 mm handgun. He shot 10 victims. and 26 people were injured during the attack.

During the crisis, Artis immediately alerted the Rail Control Center of what happened.

“I told them what I was seeing in the station, opened the doors and thanked God for my partner,” he said. “To the customers who were injured on the platform and stayed, I told them to just stay calm, police and medical are coming on the scene.” 

Subway workers who helped passengers during Tuesday’s Sunset Park shooting stand outside City Hall, holding their plaques. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Artis and Haynes helped passengers evacuate the Manhattan-bound N train at the 36th Street station. 

“My instinct was just to physically get the passengers to safety. My riders were my first concern,” said Haynes. “As long as I am calm and collected, my passengers will be calm and collected, and because of that I was able to get as many people to safety as possible.” 

Franchi and Williams were operating a Brooklyn-bound R train on the opposite side of the platform and helped bring riders to safety.  

“We unfortunately deal with these situations here in New York City because we are always a target,” Franchi said. “But fortunately, I was in the position to help in any way possible, and I feel fortunate we were able to do whatever we could to help the people of this great city feel safe during a time of terror.  

“Doing the right thing pays off, and my sole focus was to make sure everyone was good,” said Williams. “It makes me feel good about the job that I do, and it makes me want to keep doing the job I do for the MTA. Despite some bad apples who unfortunately ride the trains, for the most part, the subway is safe”

Havens said that his instinct was just to physically get the passengers to safety. 

“My riders were my first concern,” she said. “As long as I am calm and collected, my passengers will be calm and collected, and because of that I was able to get as many people to safety as possible.” 

Mejia helped get New Yorkers away from the scene, operating a shuttle bus. 

“I was told there was a shooting, and that’s when my adrenaline kicked in,” she said. :”That day, I worked from 5 in the morning until midnight and kept the buses moving. My main focus was to get my passengers, especially the children, to safety.” 

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber and Transport Workers Union Local 100 leaders were also on hand at the ceremony.

Sunset Park continues to heal from the shooting. On Saturday, April 16, a Day of Unity event was held at Sixth Avenue and 44th Street, and officers, community organizations and mental health practitioners joined with Sunset Park residents.

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