A Brooklyn subway suspect notified police of his location
By Michael R. Sisak, Michael Balsamo and Jennifer Peltz | The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) – The man accused of shooting 10 people on a Brooklyn subway train was arrested Wednesday and charged with a federal terrorism offense after the suspect himself called the police to come look for him, law enforcement officials said.
Frank R. James, 62, was taken into custody about 30 hours after the rampage on a rush hour train left five people in critical condition and townspeople on edge.
“My fellow New Yorkers, we got it,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
James was awaiting arraignment on a charge of terrorism or other violent attacks on public transit systems and facing up to life in prison, the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney said, Breon Peace.
In recent months, James has denounced online videos about racism and violence in the United States and his experiences with mental health care in New York, and he had criticized Adams’ mental health policies. and safety in the subway. But the motive for the subway attack remains unclear, and there is no indication that James had ties to terrorist organizations, international or otherwise, Peace said.
It was not immediately clear whether James, who is from New York but has recently lived in Philadelphia and Milwaukee, had an attorney or someone else who could speak for him. A sign taped to the door of James’ apartment in Milwaukee asks that all mail be delivered to a post office box.
James, wearing a blue t-shirt and brown trousers with his hands cuffed behind his back, did not answer reporters’ questions as police escorted him to a car hours after his arrest .
Police had launched a massive effort to find him, releasing his name and issuing alerts to his mobile phone.
They learned Wednesday that he was at a McDonald’s in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, department chief Kenneth Corey said.
The tipster was James, and he told authorities to come get him, two law enforcement officials said. They were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
James was gone when officers arrived, but they quickly spotted him in a busy corner nearby.
Four police cars sped around the corner, officers jumped out and soon a docile James was in handcuffs as a crowd of people looked on, witness Aleksei Korobow said.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said authorities “were able to shrink his world quickly”.
“He had nowhere left to run,” she said.
The day before, James detonated smoke grenades in a crowded subway car and then fired at least 33 shots from a 9mm handgun, police said.
Police Chief of Detectives James Essig told police that after James opened one of the smoke grenades, a biker asked, “What did you do?”
“Oops,” James said, then raised his gun and opened fire, according to testimony.
At least a dozen people who escaped gunshot wounds were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.
As terrified passengers fled the attack, James apparently jumped onto another train – the same one many were directed to for safety, police said. He got off at the next station, disappearing in the most populous city in the country.
The shooter left numerous clues, including the gun, ammunition clips, a hatchet, smoke grenades, gasoline and the key to a U-Haul van. This key led investigators to James.
Federal investigators determined the gun used in the shooting was purchased by James from a pawnshop — a licensed gun dealer — in the Columbus, Ohio, area in 2011.
The van was found, unoccupied, near a station where investigators determined the shooter entered the subway. No explosives or firearms were found in the van, a law enforcement official who was not authorized to comment on the investigation told The Associated Press and did so under cover of anonymity. Police found other items, including pillows, suggesting he was sleeping or planned to sleep in the van, the official said.
Investigators believe James drove from Philadelphia on Monday and reviewed surveillance video showing a man matching his physical description exiting the van early Tuesday morning, the official said. Another video shows James entering a subway station in Brooklyn with a large bag, the official said.
In addition to analyzing financial and phone records related to James, investigators were reviewing hours of rambling and crude videos James posted on YouTube and other social media platforms as they tried to discern a motive.
In a video, posted a day before the attack, James, who is black, criticizes crime against black people and says drastic action is needed.
“You have kids coming in here taking machine guns and mowing down innocent people,” James says. “It’s not going to get better until we improve it,” he said, adding that he believed things would only change if some people were “trampled, kicked and tortured” out of the way. their “comfort zone”.
In another video, he says: “This nation was born in violence, it is kept alive by violence or the threat of it and it will die a violent death. Nothing is going to stop this. »
His posts are full of violent language and bigoted comments, some against black people.
Sewell called the messages “concerning” and officials stepped up security for Adams, who was already self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
Several of James’ videos mention New York City subways. A February 20 video says the mayor and governor’s plan to tackle homelessness and safety in the subway system “is doomed” and describes himself as a “victim” of the mental health programs of the city. A January 25 video criticizes Adams’ plan to end gun violence.
The Brooklyn subway station where passengers fled the smoky train during the attack was open as usual Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the violence.
Commuter Jude Jacques, who takes the D train to his job as a fire safety director about two blocks from the filming location, said he prays every morning but has a special request Wednesday.
“I said, ‘God, it’s all in your hands,'” Jacques said. “I was anxious, and you can imagine why. Everyone is scared because it just happened.
Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jim Mustian, Beatrice Dupuy, Karen Matthews, Julie Walker, Deepti Hajela, Michelle L. Price and David Porter in New York contributed to this report, and Michael Kunzelman contributed from College Park, Maryland .