NEW YORK — A man suspected of abruptly pulling a gun and killing a stranger on a New York City subway train was arrested Tuesday, with police saying his motive for the unprovoked attack was “a big mystery.”
Andrew Abdullah, 25, was expected to face a murder charge in the death of 48-year-old Daniel Enriquez, who was shot to death while heading to Sunday brunch.
Abdullah “targeted this poor individual for reasons we don’t know,” Chief of Detectives James Essig said at a news conference.
The arrest came hours after police posted Abdullah’s name and photo on social media and implored the public to help find him. But after the arrest, police disclosed that officers briefly stopped him after the shooting but let him go because his clothes didn’t match the description they were given.
The Legal Aid Society, which is representing Abdullah, said it was review ing evidence and urged the public not to make assumptions about the case.
“Mr. Abdullah deserves vigorous representation from his defense counsel, and that is what The Legal Aid Society will provide,” the organization said in a statement.
About six weeks after another subway shooting wounded 10 people, witnesses Sunday saw a man pacing in the last car of a Q line train heading from Brooklyn to Manhattan, muttering to himself, Essig said. The only words witnesses could make out: “No phones.”
Then the man pulled out a gun and fired at Enriquez at close range, hitting him once in the chest, police said. The shooter fled after the train arrived at Manhattan’s Canal Street and ditched his gun by handing it to a stranger on the subway stairs, Essig said. Police eventually found the recipient and the gun, which had been reported stolen in Virginia in 2019.
About a block and a half away, officers stopped Abdullah and asked him what he was doing, Essig said. But he wasn’t wearing the black hoodie mentioned in the initial suspect description, and he had a backpack that hadn’t been mentioned. Officers let him leave but took down his name.
Only later, when viewing surveillance video, did police realize that the gunman had removed the sweatshirt after the shooting, Essig said.
The Legal Aid Society said it had tried since Monday night to arrange for Abdullah to surrender in the subway shooting, but authorities instead made a “completely unwarranted and inappropriate” decision to apprehend him outside the organization’s office. An inquiry was sent to police.
Abdullah was on parole until last June after serving 2 1/2 years behind bars on a conviction on conspiracy and attempted weapon possession charges in a gang case, according to parole records and police.