3 gunmen sought for Bronx gang subway shooting that left bystander dead, 5 hurt

The running gun battle that began on a Bronx subway train and left one dead and five injured — most of the victims innocent bystanders — was committed by three still-on-the-loose gang members possibly seeking payback for an earlier shooting, police said Tuesday.

Detectives were investigating the retribution theory as they released surveillance images of two of the gunmen being sought for opening fire on a rival crew during a “chance encounter” on the uptown rush hour No. 4 train, police said.

A third gang member also pulled a gun and fired, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said during a City Hall press conference Tuesday.

Police have identified one person of interest in the shooting and are looking to identify the two gunmen in the surveillance photos. No arrests have been made.

The gunmen may have been targeting a 15-year-old boy who was wounded in the spray of bullets, a police source said. The boy, who was shot in the thigh and right ear, is a suspect in a non-fatal prior shooting that occurred north of the station, a police source said.

The wounded boy was recovering in a Manhattan hospital Tuesday under police guard and later seen taken away in police custody, likely for questioning.

Monday’s shooting started on the train but continued onto the train platform and then to the street below, Kenny said.

“We will solve this crime and bring the people responsible to justice,” Mayor Adams vowed Tuesday.

The shooting erupted after members of the two gangs got onto the same uptown No. 4 train heading toward the Mount Eden Ave. station about 4:30 p.m., Kenny said.

“We have two groups known to each other,” Kenny said. “One group gets on at 125th St. in Manhattan and the other at the 161st St. station in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium. Once the groups come together on the train there’s a verbal dispute that leads to a physical fight.”

As the train entered the Mount Eden station, shots rang out in the packed train car.

“You can imagine the chaotic scene,” Kenny said. “You have a crowded train heading into a crowded platform where one shot is fired and everyone’s trying to get off the platform.”

The three suspects pulled 9-mm. pistols and fired off 19 shots, Kenny said. Three shell casings were found on the train car while the rest were found on the platform and the street below.

“The train was coming and there were two kids yelling,” witness Efrain Feliciano, 61, told the Daily News Monday. “I saw sparkles as the bullets hit the wall. A woman was holding a child screaming.”

Cops are unsure if anyone from the rival gang fired back during the violent clash.

At least one person was shot on the train. The other victims were on the platform waiting to get on the train when bullets started flying.

Obed Beltran-Sanchez, 35, was shot in the chest and died at St. Barnabas Hospital, cops said. Believed by cops to be homeless, Beltran-Sanchez was an innocent bystander, police said.

In addition to the wounded 15-year-old boy, Alpha Oumar Diallo was struck in the right arm, a 29-year-old woman shot in the face and neck, and a 14-year-old girl shot in the foot, sources said. A 71-year-old man suffered a graze wound to his left thumb.

Diallo, 28, had just hung up the phone with his sister when he was shot. On Tuesday he remained in the hospital in a surgical intensive care unit.

“He didn’t know he was shot,” Diallo’s sister told The News. “He thought his hand had touched something electric.

“He was screaming, crying, holding his hand,” the sibling added.

Cops stressed that Monday’s shooting was not random and such violence is “not the norm” in the subway system.

“To have a shooting like this in the subway system is extremely rare and unacceptable,” NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper said Monday. “This is not indicative to what goes on in the subway system.”

Officials called the suspects “NYPD’s most wanted” and encouraged them to turn themselves in.

One suspect in the surveillance photos was wearing a dark-colored North Face jacket, gray hoodie, dark-colored ski mask, dark-colored pants and black-and-yellow Air Jordans.

The other was wearing a black jacket, black hoodie, black ski mask, blue ripped jeans and white-and-red Air Jordans.

The shooting comes as assaults have jumped in the city’s transit system this year. As of Sunday, there were 64 assaults reported in the city’s subway system compared to 58 recorded by this time last year — an increase of 10%. The number of robberies in the subway is also up, from 57 by this time last year to 60 so far this year, cops said.

Monday’s fatal shooting was the second homicide to occur in the subway this year, police said. In January, school crossing guard Richard Henderson, 45, was shot dead after he tried to break up a fight over loud music on a Brooklyn No. 3 train, cops said. The killing remained unsolved Tuesday.

Anyone with information about Monday’s shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

With Sheetal Banchariya, Emma Seiwell and Julian Roberts-Grmela