Brooklyn Subway Shooting Survivor Was 'Focused' on Shielding Pregnant Woman: 'Gave Her a Hug'

Authorities have identified Frank R. James as a person of interest in the mass shooting that injured over 20 people

A man is being praised for protecting a pregnant woman during the Brooklyn subway shooting that injured over 20 people injured during rush hour Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday night, injured survivor Hourari Benkada appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 from his hospital bed, recounting the harrowing moments before the mass shooting to CNN anchor John Berman.

"The guy was next to me, I didn't get a glimpse of his face. All you see is a black smoke bomb going off and then people bum-rushing to the back," Benkada said of his train seat beside the shooter, who still remains at large.

"This pregnant woman was in front of me. I was trying to help her. I didn't know if there were shots at first. I just thought it was a black smoke bomb," he continued.

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"She said 'I'm pregnant with a baby.' I hugged her and then the bum-rush continued," he said of his immediate instinct. "I got pushed and that's when I got shot in the back of my knee."

Hourari Benkada

Elsewhere in the interview, Benkada told Berman, 50 (who is filling in for Cooper while the host is out with COVID) that he is "extremely in pain" and never wanted to ride a train again in his life.

As the manhunt continues for the gunman, the New York Police Department has named a person of interest in connection with the crime. In a news conference on Tuesday night, Chief of Detectives James Essig told reporters Frank R. James is a person of interest in connection to the shooting.

"As the train approached the 36th station, witnesses state the male opened up two smoke grenades, tossed them on the subway floor, and brandished a Glock 9mm handgun. He then fired that weapon at least 33 times, striking 10 people," Essig said."The male then fled the scene and detectives are actively trying to determine his whereabouts."

Others were injured while trying to flee the scene, or suffered smoke inhalation, Essig added.

During his appearance on CNN, Benkada was shown James' photo, but said he could not identify whether he may be the shooter because the gunman was wearing a mask.

Frank James

On jumping into action when the chaos erupted, he continued, "I was just focused on the pregnant woman and that is when I got struck in the leg. I was just on my way to work."

Benkada that the pregnant woman was sitting about 12 feet away from him before the attack began, and he later saw her make it off the train in video footage.

"I seen she had a belly ... And when she seen the smoke she said 'Oh my god I'm pregnant,' " said Benkada. "That's when I gave her a hug."

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