New York shootings unnerve subway passengers

Last updated at 12:38 02 July 2004

Once feared as a den of criminals and destitutes in New York, the city's subway system has seen a dramatic improvement in recent years.

But commuters have been unnerved by a recent series of shootings on the underground rail network.

Over the last month, four people have been shot at while riding or waiting for a train. All appeared to be random attacks.

The latest happened yesterday, when a man standing on a platform in the borough of Queens was shot in the face.

He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition. The gunman escaped.

The first of the recent shootings happened on June 1, when model Monica Meadows was shot as her train pulled into the station under Times Square.

Last week, 29-year-old student Stanford Nelson was shot dead on a train just after it pulled into 23rd Street station. Two men were seen running from the scene. Neither has been caught.

And earlier this week a gunman fired at a man inside the Wall Street station because he believed the man was staring at him. No one was injured, and no one has been arrested.

News coverage of the latest attacks have left some of the 4.5 million people who use the system every day tense and on edge.

But despite the fears, recent police figures show that crime on the subway has been cut in half since the 1970s, when crime rates in New York were higher in general.

Today there are, on average, 8.6 serious crimes a day on the subway. In 1977 the figure stood at 16.

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