Andrew Abdullah was led into the NYPD’s 5th Precinct in Chinatown on Tuesday afternoon to face charges in connection with the Sunday morning attack on a New York City Q-train, officials said. He was flanked by several law enforcement officers, including agents with the U.S. Marshal Service, as he made his way into the precinct station house.
“Today, the manhunt for Andrew Abdullah is over,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell told reporters. “Less than three hours after the NYPD released his photograph to the public, Mr. Abdullah knew he had nowhere left to run.”
The city’s top cop further called Daniel Enriquez’s murder “every New Yorker’s worst nightmare.”
Abdullah is being charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
Speaking to reporters outside the precinct on Tuesday, Abdullah’s family pastor, Bishop Lamor M. Whitehead, said the suspect’s family has paperwork to show he has a history of mental illness. Whitehead said Abdullah “maintains his innocence.”
“He doesn’t even remember any of this happening at all,” the pastor said. “We have a family that’s hurting. We have a family that lost a loved one … And this young man said, ‘I want to turn myself in.'”
Enriquez, 48, was sitting inside the last car of a moving train shortly before 11:42 a.m. when, according to witnesses, the suspect “was walking back and forth in the same train car,” NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey told reporters on Sunday.
“Without provocation,” Corey said, he “pulled out a gun and fired at the victim at close range as the trains [were] crossing the Manhattan Bridge.”
Corey said during a Tuesday press conference that the only words witnesses heard Abdullah utter before the attack were: “No phones.”
“We believe that was, maybe he wants nobody to take phone cameras off the incident that was about to go down,” Corey explained. Enriquez and the victim were said to have had no prior interaction.
He then allegedly handed off the firearm – a 9mm Ruger that was reported stolen – to a homeless individual, who was later interviewed by police.
“Approximately 11 minutes later, transit officers responding to the scene stopped the suspect,” Corey continued. “He had altered his appearance.” They let him go when he did not match the description of what the suspect was wearing, but investigators later tracked down surveillance footage that showed him changing his appearance.
Enriquez, who worked as a research assistant for Goldman Sachs, was rushed to an area hospital, but could not be saved. Corey said the victim and his attacker were strangers to each other.
On Tuesday, Sewell told reporters Abdullah was “well known to the criminal justice system.”
“But again and again, his repeat offenses were not enough to keep him off our streets,” Sewell went on. “His criminal history stretches back to 2006 and includes charges of felony assault, robbery, attempted murder and a still open gun charge from two years ago.”
She added: “The most basic purpose of the criminal justice system is to keep people safe. And in the only state in our nation where a judge is not allowed to consider dangerousness when setting bail, this was … yet another failure of that system. And now Daniel Enriquez is gone.”
Police officials said Abdullah is a known gang offender who has at least eight prior arrests and was wanted for prior crimes.
Abdullah is expected to appear before a judge on Tuesday.