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.READ MORE: Annual Juneteenth Festival In Bedford-Stuyvesant Takes On New Meaning In 2021
“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 no better. It has gotten worse. Unfortunately, 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, so to speak. The train operator motorman and/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 individual who had barricaded himself in one of the cabs.”
Watch Jessica Moore’s report —
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.
The man was taken to Bellevue Hospital to be evaluated. No one was injured.
Police said the incident was one of at least four subway disruptions caused by emotionally disturbed persons on Wednesday, alone, and overall for 2021 felony assaults on the subway are up 40%.READ MORE: Georgia Man Arrested For 2020 Rape Of Woman Who Was Dragged Into Queens Alley
“It’s not like it used to be. People are … you can see that they’re afraid,” one rider said.
Around the same time the incident on the J train happened, a stranger’s out-of-the-blue sucker punch left Rockaway Beach resident John Cori with a black-and-blue nose.
“I had some neck pain and obviously a little blurriness in this eye, but the, the nose has a couple of fractures,” he told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
He say he had just gotten off the A train and was walking up the stairs of the Fulton Center station before looking down at his phone.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone coming closer to me and the guy hauls off and punches me right in the face,” Cori said.
He says the suspect grumbled something and walked away. The railing broke his fall, but the unprovoked attack left him angry.
“Everybody riding the subway has to live in fear,” Cori said. “The city’s out of control. The subways are out of control.”
“It’s crazy, but it’s all too common,” Loegel said. “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.”
New statistics confirm they’re down, but Cori says if city leaders really believe that, they need to wake up.
“Mr. Mayor, you need to go undercover and see for yourself what’s going on. Get on the A train with me,” he said. “You are out of touch if you believe everything’s OK.”MORE NEWS: NYPD: 24-Year-Old Driver Struck, Seriously Hurt Woman During Brooklyn Carjacking
CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.