The false reports Friday night sent people pushing past one another to escape the underground station. Bags, shoes and other personal items were strewn all over, the result of a panicked mass exit.
No shots were fired, and the sound was of police using a stun gun on someone, NYPD Chief William Morris said.
"About 6:30 tonight, we received numerous calls for shots fired in and around Penn Station," Morris said.
"As officers responded, we learned that the Amtrak police had deployed a Taser, the likely source of the sound and the ensuing 911 calls."
The station was already crowded due to a NJ Transit train that had stalled in a tunnel earlier, prompting massive delays during the evening rush hour.
Fire department crews were wrapping up operations related to the stalled train when chaos erupted over the false reports. They joined law enforcement to take care of patients injured in the stampede, said deputy chief Tom Currao of the FDNY.
"We had approximately 16 patients, all non-life threatening," he said.
In a tweet Friday night, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated that "no shots were fired at Penn Station" that evening.
Amtrak, which serves Penn Station, said the person tased is in police custody. The station remains open.
At Macy's Herald Square -- down the block from Penn Station -- multiple people were tweeting about reports of an active shooter there around the same time Friday.
There were no shots fired there either. It was a reaction to the stun gun incident, NYPD's Tiffany Phillips said.
|At least 16 people were injured after police used a stun gun on a person in New York's Penn Station and passengers began a panicked stampede believing gunshots had been fired.Screen capture/NBC New York|
16 injured at Penn Station after stun gun causes stampede
April 15 (UPI) -- More than a dozen people were injured when passengers at New York's Penn Station stampeded into the streets after police used a stun gun on a suspect.
NYPD said 16 people were injured when passengers began to flee the station in a frenzy after mistaking the sound of the stun gun for gunshots being fired.
Reports of shots fired at the station were ultimately determined to be unfounded according to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD.
"We received several dozen 911 calls from Penn Station and on 34th Street from Seventh Avenue to Broadway. All of those calls were determined to be unfounded," NYPD Chief William Morris told CBS New York. "Given our experience dealing with similar situations, we were able to quickly review all the 911 calls and determine that there were no actual shots fired."
Passengers left the station screaming and crying and misinformation about the alleged shooting spread to a nearby Macy's, causing customers to flee the store as well.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority stated Amtrak police placed two people in custody for disobeying orders and used a stun gun on one person.
The panic occurred after 1,200 passengers had been trapped on a disabled New Jersey Transit train for three hours earlier in the day, causing delays throughout the station.
Penn Station also experienced severe delays on March 24, when an Amtrak train derailed and scraped an New Jersey Transit train pulling into the station.
Penn Station stampede: 16 injured in chaos amid false reports of gun shots
Sixteen were injured at New York’s Penn Station during a stampede sparked when Amtrak police used a stun gun to subdue a disruptive man amid the disarray of a train with about 1,200 passengers stuck in a tunnel between New York and New Jersey for nearly three hours on Friday.
The New Jersey Transit train became disabled in the Hudson River tunnel late Friday afternoon, when Amtrak was experiencing overhead power problems. A New Jersey Transit spokeswoman said the train finally reached New York’s Penn Station in the early evening.
Meanwhile, the overcrowded train station erupted in panic when Amtrak police used a Taser to subdue a man who was causing a disturbance. New York police said the use of the Taser led to false rumors of gunshots at the station.
People screamed and ran, leaving the station strewn with abandoned bags. The nearby Macy’s department store was briefly locked down.
Amtrak said Friday night the subdued man was in police custody.
The loss of power in the tunnel caused delays of an hour or more on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. It happened three weeks after the derailment of an Amtrak train at Penn Station and a week after a New Jersey Transit derailment shut down eight of 21 tracks there and disrupted travel in the region for days. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.
Mia Sanati, a passenger on the train, said shortly after the train entered the tunnel to go under the Hudson River, they felt a bump on the side of the train and saw sparks.
“About 30 seconds later, the train just came to a complete stop,” Sanati said.
The power went out, except for emergency lights, and so did the air conditioning, said Sanati, who made video of the darkened car.
Rush hour passengers trying to leave New York faced mounting delays.
Adam Rosen, a chemical engineer going to Hamilton, New Jersey, said, “They keep extending the delays from 45 minutes to 90 minutes and now indefinitely. This is the worst.”
New Jersey Transit executive director Steven Santoro said in a statement to affected riders, “We deeply apologize for your experience, and I would like to hear from you.”
NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said the railroad was working with Amtrak to determine the cause of the problem.