Syrian immigrant tells how he helped capture New York subway shooter

Zakaria Tahhan says scenes in aftermath of subway shooting reminded him of Syrian civil war.

Syrian immigrant tells how he helped capture New York subway shooter

A Syrian immigrant who was hailed as a hero after helping New York City police catch the suspect in this week’s mass subway shooting recalled the aftermath of the horrific attack, saying that it reminded him of the civil war in Syria.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Zakaria Tahhan, 21, said first he saw the picture of the suspect on TV, and contacted police after seeing him in person while on the job.

Tahhan said he was 13 when the war in Syria broke out in 2011, and that his family first fled to neighboring Turkiye – which has taken in some 4 million Syrian migrants – and later to the US.

Saying that he has been living in New Jersey and working for a company that installs security systems, he told how he saw the subway shooter in Manhattan, where he and his colleagues came to install security cameras at a store.

"I was out getting some tools from the car. My cousin and the store manager were with me," he said, adding that he had heard the suspect was nearby, getting food.

Tahhan later rechecked the suspect's picture on the internet although he had seen him on TV that morning.

"It was the same person as in the photo," he said.

Tahhan later approached a police car waiting at a traffic light, telling the police officers that he had seen the suspect.

When he saw the people who were shot and wounded in the subway, feelings washed over him like when he first saw civilians killed in Syria.

"People have families, they have children, how can you do this to people?" he asked.

Frank James, the man suspected of opening fire in a crowded New York City subway car on Tuesday, was taken into custody and charged with a terror-related offense, officials said Wednesday.

Authorities said the suspect donned a gas mask before taking two gas canisters from a bag and opening them, filling a subway car with smoke before opening fire.

In all, officials said, 33 shots were fired during the pandemonium that ensued. Nearly 30 people were injured by gunshots, smoke inhalation, or injuries sustained while attempting to flee.

Hüseyin Demir