By Jonathan Allen and Rich McKay
NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York City police were searching on Tuesday for three men suspected of killing one person and wounding five others in a shooting that took place after a brawl broke out between what police called "rival groups" on a subway train in the Bronx.
The fighting began as a verbal dispute in a subway car shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday, police said, and it quickly escalated. The first shot was fired inside the train car, then the violence spilled onto the platform at the Mount Eden Avenue subway station in the city's Bronx borough, police said.
"You can imagine a chaotic scene," Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said at a press conference on Tuesday morning. "You have a crowded train pulling onto a crowded platform, a shot being fired, now everybody's trying to scramble to get off the platform."
At least 19 bullets were fired, Kenny said.
A man died at the scene after being shot in the chest, whom police identified as Obed Beltran-Sanchez, 35. The Mexico Consulate in New York said he was a Mexican citizen from Tehuacan, Puebla, and local media reported that he was a bystander.
Five other people were taken to local hospitals with nonfatal injuries, including a 14-year-old girl who was shot in the foot, a 14-year-old boy shot in his leg and ear, and a 71-year-old man who got a bullet to one of his thumbs.
Police released security-camera images of two of the three suspects, whom they described as men in their 20s wearing ski masks who fled the scene on foot.
Crime remains rare on New York's subway system: About 3.8 million trips are taken on the system on an average weekday, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported 570 felony assaults in all of 2023.
Transit officials emphasized this week that shootings are especially uncommon. In 2022, when a man with a handgun injured 10 people on a train passing through Brooklyn, it was the first mass shooting attack on the subway system since 1984.
A few weeks later, in May 2022, a man shot dead 48-year-old Daniel Enriquez on a Q train in what police said was an unprovoked attack. Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat and a former city police captain, has sought to reassure unnerved commuters by increasing the number of police officers in subway stations.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Mark Porter, David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis)