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Brooklyn subway shooting suspect hit with new terrorism charges

"I was on the train when whatever happened, happened," Frank James told an FBI agent in an interview taken before he spoke with a lawyer, evidence James' attorneys hope to exclude from trial.

BROOKLYN (CN) — The man accused of shooting up a New York City subway in April now faces 10 federal terrorism charges, one for each of the 10 victims struck by the bullets in the attack. 

Identifying each of the victims by their initials, prosecutors filed the superseding indictment Friday charging Frank Robert James with 10 counts of terrorism on a mass transportation system plus a single count of discharging a firearm during a violent crime. 

James allegedly set off a smoke canister in a subway car of a Manhattan-bound N train on April 12, before firing 33 shots at passengers as it pulled onto the station platform in Brooklyn's Sunset Park. Several children were among the victims of the morning rush-hour attack, which sent local schools into shelter-in-place mode until mid-afternoon. 

Police found keys to a U-Haul at the scene of the shooting, and officers tracked them to a vehicle parked two blocks away where they found a jacket with reflective tape that matched the one prosecutors say James is wearing in a surveillance video.

James called the Crime Stoppers hotline to turn himself in after seeing his picture on the news, but pleaded not guilty to his initial indictment. He has been incarcerated since NYPD officers arrested him in the East Village in Manhattan the day after the shooting. 

If convicted James, 63, could spend life in prison. The case is expected to go to trial at the end of February.

James’ attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge William Kuntz II to exclude from evidence a video that a passenger took right after the attack, and post-arrest statements by James. 

In an interview with law enforcement while he was still in the hospital, a man referred to as “Victim-1” identified James as the shooter. He said when he first got on the train, James warned him not to sit because there was “piss” on the seat. Then James said “oh shit” before opening fire.  

An FBI agent asked James after his arrest if anyone else was in danger; if there were explosives placed anywhere, or a weapon that a child could find, for instance. James said he could answer questions after he spoke with an attorney, but said he had gotten rid of the guns he owned. 

“Every firearm I have has been disposed of and that’s all I can tell you. So no other firearms with me,” James told officers, according to court documents. He also said that, “I was on the train when whatever happened, happened.”

Asked if any friends of his were in danger, James replied that he was a “loner,” and that all he does is “drink and make YouTube videos.” It was after those statements that an FBI agent and NYPD officer came in and read James his Miranda rights. 

After the shooting, it came to light that James posted hourlong, rambling videos on his now-deactivated YouTube account, ranting in some about New York City Mayor Eric Adams, politics and violence. In one, titled “DOMESTICATED AVERAGES,” he talks about becoming violent himself. 

“I’ve been through a lot of shit. I can say I wanted to kill people. I wanted to watch people die right in my fucking face,” James says. “But … I don’t want to go to fucking prison.”

James is represented by the Federal Defenders of New York, who could not be reached for comment before publication. 

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Categories / Criminal

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