He was wounded by the gas mask-wearing gunman as he rushed to save the life of a pregnant woman during Tuesday’s horrific New York subway massacre.
Before a smoke bomb was detonated, Hourari Benkada, 27, sat next to the deranged gunman, engulfing the compartment with a thick black fog.
The gunman reportedly said “oops, my bad” before opening fire – peppering passengers with a hail of 33 shots, police say.
The shooter reportedly hit at least 10 people and sent 29 to hospital – but no one was killed in the Brooklyn horror.
Frank James, 62, is being hunted by the New York Police Department as a “person of interest” following Tuesday’s subway attack.
The gunman is still on the loose, police say.
Who is Hourari Benkada?
Hourari, who is recovering in hospital after the attack, has now spoken out about the nightmare that occurred before 8.30 a.m.
“I sat down, and the guy is right next to me, and all you see is a black smoke bomb going off, and then people bum-rushing to the back,” he told CNN’s John Berman.
Hourari came to a halt in the midst of the chaos to assist a woman who yelled, “Oh my God, I’m pregnant!” He grabbed her fiercely but was shoved by the terrified crowd.
Hourari, who worked as a housekeeping manager at the New Yorker Hotel, was wounded behind his right knee, with the bullet exiting the other side.
He described it as “the worst pain of my entire life”.
“We were trying to break the door, and the train took forever to reach the station”, he added.
Despite the horrific attack doctors expect Hourari to walk on his own after several weeks on crutches.
But the 27-year-old is “shocked” and “shaky” following the horror and doesn’t know if he can ever ride the subway again.
Another passenger, Fitim Gjeloshi, says he remembers the hellish moment the gunman decided to begin his blood thirsty attack.
He said: “When [the train] was about to hit 36th Street, we stopped for 5 minutes.
“He takes out a gas mask from one of his little luggage[s]. He opened one of his gas tanks, and he said, ‘Oops, my bad.’
“He pulls out an axe, he drops it, he takes a gun out, he starts shooting.”
While a heartbroken mother of a victim in Tuesday’s shooting spoke of her anxiety as her son underwent serious surgery.
A federal law enforcement source told Newsweek the suspect was previously known to the FBI.
Police found keys at the crime scene belonging to a U-Haul in Philadelphia that was rented by James.