NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) -- Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James was arrested in Manhattan and charged with a federal terrorism offense on Wednesday, authorities said. He was found in the East Village after an intensive manhunt that lasted more than 24 hours. Authorities believe he's the man who fired 33 shots on a crowded N-line train at the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park Tuesday morning, leaving 29 people injured, 10 of them by gunfire. All of them are expected to survive. Officials named James as a suspect earlier on Wednesday.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2022
5:36 p.m. - The criminal complaint against Frank R. James, the 62-year-old suspect for Wednesday’s shooting, offers insight into the attack
Police recovered two bags at the scene of the shooting.
One held fireworks, while the other included U-Haul keys, a hand gun, a plastic container with gasoline in it, a torch and multiple bank cards registered to James.
Police believe James traveled across state lines to commit the shooting. Some of the cards were connected to a phone number from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the gun was purchased in Ohio and James was renting an apartment in Philadelphia.
The U-Haul that James used to drive into Brooklyn was also rented in Philadelphia. Police believe he crossed the Verrazzano Bridge into Brooklyn early Wednesday morning.
In the apartment authorities found empty magazines, a taser and blue smoke canisters. In a storage locker James was renting they found ammunition.
The complaint points to conspiracy theory YouTube videos James had released that have since been removed from the platform as to why he might have committed the shooting.
The videos predicted a race war would follow Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a genocide of Black people perpetrated by white people.
He also railed against Mayor Eric Adams and was distraught by the presence of homeless people in the subway.
The complaint quotes one of James’ video rants addressed to Adams:
“What are you doing, brother? What’s happening with this homeless situation?” said James. “Every car I went to wa[s] loaded with homeless people. It was so bad, I couldn’t even stand… And so the message to me is: I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting motherf**ers.”
5:12 p.m. - Shooting suspect Frank James submitted tip on himself that led to his arrest on Wednesday
The tip he submitted indicated he was at a East Village McDonalds by 6th Street and 1st Avenue, according to authorities.
Police found him around the corner from there and placed him under arrest.
2:50 p.m. - Subway shooting suspect arrested in Manhattan, faces federal terrorism charge
Subway shooting suspect Frank R. James, 62, was arrested in Manhattan and charged with a federal terrorism offense, officials said at a press conference.
U.S. Attorney Breon Peace, of the Eastern District of New York, said James will be arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on a charge that “prohibits terrorist and other violent attacks against mass transportation systems.” If found guilty, he faces life in prison.
“My fellow New Yorkers, we got him,” Mayor Eric Adams said by video at the press conference. “Thirty-three (gun) shots, but less than 30 hours later we’re able to say we got him.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said James was taken into custody at St. Marks Place and First Avenue in the East Village by officers responding to a Crime Stoppers tip at 1:42 p.m.
“We were able to shrink his world quickly,” Sewell said. “There was nowhere left for him to run.”
The commissioner said James was taken into custody without incident, transported to an NYPD facility and charged for Tuesday’s “appalling crime in Brooklyn.”
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said James has ties to New York City, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
He has nine prior arrests in New York dating from 1992 to 1998, including for criminal sex act, possession of burglary tools and theft of service. He also has arrests in New Jersey in 1991, 1992 and 2007 for trespass, larceny and disorderly conduct.
Essig said police uncovered video of James entering the Kings Highway subway station in Gravesend before the shooting and that he had the same black cart that was later recovered at the crime scene at the 36th Street station in Sunset Park.
After the shooting, James boarded an R train across the platform from the N train where the shooting occurred and traveled one stop north to the 25th Street station, Essig said.
His last known whereabouts were at Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street in Park Slope, where he was spotted reentering the subway later on Tuesday, Essig said.
It’s unclear where James was between the sighting in Park Slope and the Crime Stoppers tip that led police to an East Village McDonald's on Wednesday afternoon.
NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said police received the tip around 1:40 p.m. at the McDonald’s near 6th Street and First Avenue. Officers responded, but James wasn’t there, so they started driving around looking for him and eventually spotted him at St. Marks Place and First Avenue, where he was taken into custody, Corey said.
1:45 p.m. - YouTube pulls account apparently belonging to suspect
YouTube removed an account that’s believed to belong to subway shooting suspect Frank James.
The NYPD appeared to use a screenshot from one of the account’s videos when they released images of James in their search for him.
Authorities haven’t confirmed James is behind the account, called “prophetoftruth88.”
The account was still live on Wednesday morning and included dozens of profanity-filled videos, including ones in which a man believed to be James sounds off about gun violence, homelessness, the New York subway, Mayor Eric Adams and more.
As of 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, a message reads: “This account has been terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines.”
1:30 p.m. - Suspect reportedly linked to MetroCard swiped in Brooklyn hours after shooting
Authorities have linked suspect Frank James to a MetroCard swiped at a Brooklyn subway station hours after the shooting, law enforcement sources told WNBC.
The MetroCard was reportedly used Tuesday night with a credit card connected to James.
The sources said this has led investigators to believe the 62-year-old may have still been inside the transit system after the shooting around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
It's unclear where he may have been headed, as MTA data isn’t in real-time, the sources noted.
12:45 p.m. - MTA CEO says ‘we're still trying to figure out’ why cameras weren’t working at station
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber told 1010 WINS that the transit agency is “still trying to figure out” why cameras weren’t working at the 36th Street station during the shooting, but he emphasized that images captured by other cameras on the subway line were important to the investigation.
Lieber joined 1010 WINS’ Newsline with Brigitte Quinn just hours after Mayor Eric Adams told WINS that the issue with the cameras is “the question we are seeking as well.”
“We’re looking into it” and “communicating with the MTA,” Adams said.
Responding to question about the cameras, Lieber told Quinn, “I think what we ought to be talking about is literally the 600 cameras up and down the N line just in Brooklyn—out of our 10,000 cameras—that were working and that the NYPD’s combing through, and you know what, yielding actual evidence of investigative value, including three images of the wanted perpetrator, Frank James, entering the system with all the stuff he had in tow.”
Pressed about the cameras, Lieber said, “I don’t have definitive final information. I think that we’re still trying to figure out why a couple of those cameras weren’t working.”
“We have 10,000 cameras,” Lieber said. “I don’t know if there was a couple working, not working in a particular location that day, but the NYPD is using the cameras that we have up and down that line to track this guy. It is yielding evidence.”
“There may be individual cameras that are not working on any particular location. These are connected to NYPD devices at the other end, so I can’t speak to that in any particular location,” he added, noting that investigators were “combing through literally thousands of cameras, hours and hours of video evidence” throughout the night.
“Got a lot. NYPD’s using it,” he said.
11:25 a.m. - Suspect purchased gun in Ohio in 2011: official
Federal investigators have determined that the gun used in the shooting was purchased by suspect Frank James at a pawn shop — a licensed firearms dealer — in the Columbus, Ohio, area in 2011, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press.
The official wasn't authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Police have said the Glock 9 mm semi-automatic handgun was found in the Sunset Park subway station after the shooting, along with extended magazines, a hatchet, detonated and undetonated smoke grenades, gasoline, a black garbage can, a rolling cart and a key to a U-Haul van found several stops away in Gravesend.
11:15 a.m. - Hillary Clinton reacts to shooting: ‘My heart goes out to everyone affected’
Hillary Clinton, who lives in Westchester, reacted to the mass shooting in Brooklyn and separate deadly shootings in the Bronx.
“My heart goes out to everyone affected by yesterday's shooting on the subway in Brooklyn and by separate attacks in the Bronx,” Clinton wrote. “I’m grateful to the first responders and to all New Yorkers who embody the best of the city by offering help, comfort, and care to their fellow citizens.”
10:35 a.m. - Mobile alert goes out across NYC in manhunt for Frank James
An “Emergency Alert” went out to cell phones across New York City shortly before 10:30 a.m. as authorities search for Frank James in the subway shooting.
The alert says he’s wanted for the Sunset Park shooting and urges anyone with information to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.
10:30 a.m. - MTA CEO tells WCBS 880 subway cameras may have had ‘connection problem,’ but agency has ‘a ton of video evidence’
Amid reports that the investigation into the subway shooting was hampered because of camera problems at the 36th Street station, MTA CEO Janno Lieber told WCBS 880 that the cameras may have had “connection problems” but the transit agency was nevertheless able to provide investigators with “a ton of video evidence” from cameras “up and down the N and R line.”
“Here’s what I can tell you. There’s 600 cameras on that line just in Brooklyn,” Lieber said. “There are over 10,000 cameras in the system. The NYPD has been working over all of that video up and down the N and R line and they have actually identified from three perspectives—video of when this fellow who is now wanted for this horrific attack—they’ve got video of him coming into the system from three perspectives. So the whole camera system, which has been a priority for the MTA for some time has actually helped the investigation right now.”
Asked if the cameras at the station were broken, Lieber said that wasn’t exactly the case.
“No, like I said there are cameras up and down the line,” he said. “There may have been a server problem or an internet connection problem at one or two of them, but the big picture is we’ve got a ton of video evidence that goes directly to the investigation, it’s helped the NYPD to identify and confirm that this is the guy they want for murder and this act of violence.”
Asked about riders’ anxiety over the shooting, Lieber said safety is a top priority and that authorities are cracking down on people violating the subway rules of conduct to help straphangers feel safer.
“The mayor and the governor to their credit, long before what happened yesterday, have made subway safety a priority,” he said. “I have been asking, during the de Blasio administration, 'Can we put the cops who are in the system on the trains and on the platforms?' That is where the riders feel vulnerable and where they are vulnerable. That's what the riders tell us that they want. Adams and Hochul have actually responded. Mayor Adams has put the cops onto the trains, onto the platforms, he now says he's redoubling that effort. That is a huge step forward.”
Lieber said they’ve also been ramping up enforcement of the subway rules of conduct.
“If you stop people jumping the turnstile and you interdict fare evasion, you're going catch a lot of the bad guys who are doing things that make people uncomfortable and actually that are crimes,” he said. “If you enforce the subway rules of conduct—no smoking, no drug use, not people raging on the platform. We need people who have mental health issues to get services and get out of the system.”
Lieber also said “new technology solutions” are on the table to help with subway safety.
"That’s why we put in all those cameras, because we get video from 10,000 cameras. Just a short couple of years ago, we only had 30% of the system covered, now we have 100% of the system, and there are ways to use that technology that I think are going to bring additional safety. So we want to work with the mayor and everybody in law enforcement on ideas for new technology solutions. Obviously, we need them to be practical. There are millions of people riding the subway system. We're not going to run an airport metal detector operation every day, but I think we can make the system safer using technology. I love that the mayor is pushing that as an idea.”
Some of the riders in Tuesday’s shooting said they were unable to flee to a different train car because the doors between cars were locked. Lieber said it’s a safety measure that’s being reexamined.
“Many of us grew up in New York where you could move between the cars. The problem with that is a lot of people were dying because they'd slip as they move between the cars,” he said. “So that is a safety reason, it's also a fire safety issue without getting too technical. It's like fire safety doors, like fire doors. But we're going to reexamine that issue as well in light of what we're learning from, episodes where people feel like they need to get away from something. The other thing we're doing is we're looking seriously at new trains having those, the articulated system, so basically it feels like one long train. You could move the length of the train. That is one of the options we're studying for new rail cars in the subway.”
9:45 a.m. - Suspect has prior NYC arrests, was sleeping in van containing paraphernalia linking him to gas cans in subway: sources
Sources told 1010 WINS that subway shooting suspect Frank R. James has three prior arrests in New York City.
The arrests are for minor crimes like shoplifting and harassment, the sources said.
James was sleeping in the U-Haul van that he rented, according to the sources, who said other paraphernalia in the van links him to the gas containers found in the station.
Police have said the subway shooter left gasoline, as well as a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, extended magazines, a hatchet, detonated and undetonated smoke grenades, a black garbage can, a rolling cart and the key to the U-Haul van.
9:30 a.m. - NYPD releases new images of suspect Frank James, who ‘fired numerous gun shots’ in subway
Shortly after Mayor Adams said Frank Robert James is now a suspect in the subway shooting, the NYPD tweeted a poster with new images of him.
The department specifically said they believe the 62-year-old is the one who “fired numerous gun shots inside an N line subway car” at the 36th Street station in Sunset Park.
A search for the shooter has been underway for over 24 hours. Authorities are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment.
Anyone with information is asked to call NYPD Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
9:15 a.m. - City ‘looking into’ why cameras weren’t working at station, Adams tells 1010 WINS
Mayor Eric Adams told 1010 WINS' Susan Richard that the city is looking into why the cameras weren’t working at the 36th Street subway station during the shooting.
“And that is the question we are seeking as well,” the mayor said. “I know people see the subway system run through New York, but the mayor of the city and the electors are not in charge of the system. That is a state entity. We have been communicating with the MTA. They have been extremely cooperative, and we would like to have the answers as well to see what other stations are having problems with cameras. Because cameras play a crucial role in identifying crimes like these, and that was their purpose. And so we’re looking into it as well, and we have been communicating with the MTA.”
Asked why the door between subway cars was locked, leaving the riders trapped in a smoke-filled car with the gunman, Adams said it’s a safety precaution that’s being reviewed.
“I know it was put in place for safety measures,” the mayor said. “And I think that we’re going to sit down with the leadership there and get an analysis on, is this the best practice of keeping the doors locked? It was used to keep people from riding between cars. There were a large number of what was called 'man under,' where people were falling through the cars, and we were losing lives that way. I want to get a clear understanding. You know, being trapped in one subway car can be extremely dangerous. And as a former transit cop, I know how dangerous people feel if they’re trapped within one car, and we’re going to explore that.”
Asked how the shooter managed to get into the subway with a gun, a hatchet, smoke grenades and gasoline, Adams said the city is looking at new technologies to identify guns in combination with bag checks.
“When it comes down to a person that has a desire to bring about terror on innocent passengers, we have so many subway stations, and if someone wants to bring about something as deadly as that, preventing them from entering the system is a real challenge because of how wide and vast our system actually is,” the mayor said. “But the goal is to identify them immediately when they’re on the system. And you’re right, it’s the combination of periodic bag checks. It’s looking at these new technologies that can detect guns. There’s actually technology out there right now that is used in ballparks and other professional arenas, hospitals, that can detect a gun. And we need to incorporate that into our system. This is not the traditional metal detector used at airports, but it is a higher level of technology. I have been sending my deputy mayor of public safety across the country to find what new technologies are out there to keep New Yorkers safe.”
8:45 a.m. - Frank R. James now considered a suspect in shooting
Frank R. James, 62, is now considered a suspect, not a person of interest, in the subway shooting.
Mayor Adams’ press secretary, Fabien Levy, tweeted the update shortly after 8:30 a.m. after the mayor announced it in a radio interview.
“@NYCMayor just announced that Frank James is now a suspect in yesterday’s subway shooting and no longer just a person of interest,” Levy tweeted.
"I was just recently briefed by our team," Adams said in the interview. "We have now upgraded the person of interest to being a suspect."
The mayor said James is now considered a suspect "based on new information that has become available to the team," without specifying.
8:00 a.m. - Gunman believed to have acted alone, Adams says
Mayor Eric Adams told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “there is no evidence that indicates at this time that there was an accomplice. It appears he was acting alone.”
“It appears he was acting alone,” the mayor said.
Of the victims, the mayor told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “there’s only four remaining in the hospital.”
In all, 29 people were injured in the shooting, including 10 who were shot. Five were initially in critical condition but were stable and expected to survive.
7:45 a.m. - Subway service resumes, including at 36th Street station
Subway service returned Wednesday after lines were suspended or facing delays following Tuesday’s shooting. All trains are stopping at the 36th Street station after the NYPD wrapped up its investigation there.
The MTA said: “We're running full service on all of our lines after NYPD completed its investigation at 36 St in Brooklyn. B/W trains are running on their regular routes, and all D/N/R trains are stopping at 36 St.”
7:30 a.m. - Authorities continue search for Frank R. James, examine his social media posts
Police continued their search Wednesday for the person of interest in the subway shooting, 62-year-old Frank R. James, as they poured over his social media posts, described as "concerning" by the NYPD commissioner.
Authorities have stressed that they don’t know if James is responsible for the shooting, but they want to speak with him. A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the case.
Rambling, profanity-filled YouTube videos apparently posted by James, who is Black, are replete with violent language and bigoted comments, some against other Black people.
One video, posted April 11, criticizes crime against Black people and says drastic action is needed.
“You got kids going in here now taking machine guns and mowing down innocent people," James says. “It’s not going to get better until we make it better,” he said, adding that he thought things would only change if certain people were “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of their “comfort zone.”
He also decried the U.S. as a racist place awash in violence.
“This nation was born in violence, it’s kept alive by violence or the threat thereof and it’s going to die a violent death. There’s nothing going to stop that,” he said in one video.
Several videos mention the city’s subway system.
A Feb. 20 video says the mayor and governor’s plan to address homelessness and safety in the subway system “is doomed for failure” and refers to himself as a “victim” of the city's mental health programs. A Jan. 25 video criticizes Adams’ plan to end gun violence.
Adams, who is isolating following a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday, said in a video statement that the city “will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized, even by a single individual."
In a tweet Tuesday night, Adams posted a video of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn with the short caption, "New York Forever."
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell called James' posts “concerning" and officials tightened security for Adams.
Meanwhile, hundreds of detectives continued to look over surveillance video and other evidence in the case.
While cameras in the 36th Street station weren’t working at the time of the shooting, detectives were looking over surveillance cameras in the area.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said a key to a U-Haul van found at the shooting scene led investigators to James, who has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin. The van was later found, unoccupied, near the Kings Highway station in Gravesend, where investigators determined the gunman had entered the train system, Essig said.
Amid the chaos of the shooting, the gunman fled and left behind the U-Haul key, as well as a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, extended magazines, a hatchet, detonated and undetonated smoke grenades, a black garbage can, a rolling cart and gasoline, according to police.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, five of the 10 gunshot victims remained in critical condition at area hospitals but were expected to survive. Nineteen other people were also injured, including by smoke inhalation and shrapnel.
6:30 a.m. - Hochul visits hospital where wounded recovering
Gov. Kathy Hochul visited victims of the Sunset Park subway shooting at Maimonides Hospital on Tuesday evening. She also rode the subway with MTA CEO Janno Lieber.
Among the patients the governor met with was an 18-year-old old student at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
“He was on his way to school, and he was awaiting his surgery on an injury,” Hochul said. “It was either a bullet wound, or a shrapnel wound. I had a chance to talk to the doctors about his condition, but he was able to communicate with me. He seems to be doing well and he's in very good spirits, as well as his mother and grandmother who are there as well.”
“Also had a chance to have a challenging encounter with a woman, the mother of a 16-year-old victim who just had hand surgery,” the governor said. “And I thank God for the incredible talent of the doctors here who were able to restore life to his thumb. And after surgery he should be able to be discharged tomorrow but it is a long recovery.”
“His mother does not speak English, she is Chinese, she is there alone,” she said. “And it was so sad to hear her through a translator talk about her anxiety. All she has is her son and it's just the two of them. And she does not know what she's going to do when she leaves. So I had a long hug with her and let her know that we send the love of all New Yorkers.”
Hochul called the response to the shooting, by emergency responders and bystanders, “another testament to how incredible New Yorkers are.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.