A New York City man is being hailed as a hero after he saved the life of a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Hourari Benkada, 27, was at the 59th Street N train stop in Brooklyn on Tuesdsay when a gunman opened fire, injuring several passengers. However, rather than attempting to protect himself, Benkada went out of his way to assure the woman was safe, he later told Anderson Cooper 360.
- Benkada was injured in the gunfire. Speaking from his hospital bed, he revealed that he was shot in the back of the knee during the attack and said that the ordeal “makes me never want to ride a train again ever in my life.”
- It was a day that started out like any other. Benkada recalled being at the 59th Street station and transferring trains as he always did on his way to work as a housekeeping manager at a Manhattan hotel. He said he didn’t pay too much attention to what was going on around him that morning and didn’t think anything of it when the man who would later be the shooter sat down beside him. “The guy is next to me but I didn’t get a glimpse of his face,” he recalled. The shooter was said to have been wearing headphones and a face mask.
- Then, a smoke bomb went off. As the train pulled out of the station, the shooter set off a “smoke bomb” cutting off all visibility in the train. “All you see is smoke, black smoke bomb going off, and then people bum rushing to the back,” Benkada said. “About 10 shots went off. I think the gun jammed. I think he had an extended clip or something because I’ve never heard that many shots come off a handgun.” He added that the gunshots “sounded like the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
- Benkada knew he had to help those around him. It was the pregnant woman he saw and rushed to first. “This pregnant woman was in front of me. I was trying to help her. I didn’t know there were shots at first, I just thought it was a black smoke bomb. She said, ‘I’m pregnant with a baby.’ I hugged her, and then the bum rush continued,” he remembered.
- He says the gunshot in the back of his knee has been “the worst pain of my entire life.” However, it didn’t hit him until after the incident. “It’s an old-style train, you can’t switch cars.” he said of the subway car he was riding at the time. “Somebody broke the first door down and the second door was really hard to break, and I was just focused on the pregnant woman. And that’s when I got struck in the leg, man. I was just on my way to work.” He also admitted that the trauma of the event was still overwhelming and likely to stay with him for a long time.
Thankfully, the shooter, Frank James, has been arrested and is being held without bail. He’s likely to spend the rest of his life in prison. No one has died, but this horrific event will be on everyone’s minds for a long time to come.