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Panic and chaos at New York Penn Station following NJ Transit delays

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NEW YORK — Friday afternoon’s nightmare commute on the Northeast Corridor started with a disabled NJ Transit train that delayed thousands at New York Penn Station. It was followed by panic after people inside the station thought they heard gunshots.

Chaos at New York Penn Station
(@njttranslations via Twitter)

Sixteen people were treated for non-life threatening injuries in a stampede out of Penn Station, according to the NYPD.

The “bad Friday” commute began with NJ Transit train Northeast Corridor train #3850 with 1,200 people on board got stuck in the Hudson River tunnel heading for New York around 3:25 p.m. because of a power outage Amtrak said occurred on the west side of the station. This led to single tracking with delays.

The train was towed into Penn Station and passengers were heading up the stairs and into the station when Amtrak police officers used a Taser gun to subdue a man. Rumors quickly spread that gunshots had been fired creating a stampede and chaos as passengers left behind their bags and just ran.

“Megan,” a commuter from the Jersey Shore, told New Jersey 101.5 she had a six-hour commute home on Friday. “I was lying underneath a bunch of people who were told to drop down. We were smushed against a metal barrier with the people getting off the elevator and falling on us,” she wrote in a Twitter direct message. “Cops told everybody to hide and then evacuate immediately.”

Megan wrote that “once we got out of Penn Station, there was a stampede from the opposite direction, screaming ‘shooter!'”

“I walked into a building in the middle of the street and sat it out. All is good. I saw people with bleeding noses and piles of luggage, possessions, shoes strewn all over pen station.”

Before all that, Megan said NJ Transit trains were at the platform but riders were not allowed to board, creating crowded conditions.

NYPD said no gunshots had been fired.

ABC 7 Eyewitness News reported the NYPD received two dozen calls about an active shooter in the station and that Macy’s on 34th Street was evacuated.

NJ Transit president Steven Santoro in a statement said the agency “deeply apologized” to the passengers on board #3850 and everyone impacted by the incident at Penn Station.

He said he wanted to hear from those affected via the contact page at njtransit.com or by calling 973-275-5555 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week. “We are working with Amtrak to determine the cause of the incident,’ Santoro said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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