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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Subway shooting suspect arrested in Manhattan

Police identified Frank James early Wednesday as the man who fired 33 shots on a train during the previous morning’s commuter rush.

BROOKLYN (CN) — The man accused of firing a gun into a subway car and injuring at least 23 people, leaving five in critical condition, is now in police custody and faces federal terrorism charges.

Frank Robert James, 62, was arrested in Manhattan’s East Village hours after New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced he was a suspect, elevated from “person of interest.” 

He is charged in the Eastern District of New York with terrorism and violent attack-related offenses on a mass transportation system. If convicted, James faces a sentence of up to life in prison. 

Shots broke out around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in a northbound R train as it pulled into the 36th Street and Fourth Avenue station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. Authorities believe James set off a smoke canister before he started shooting, continuing the attack on the subway platform after the train pulled in.

Law enforcement officials say they caught James after the Crime Stoppers Program got a tip from a caller. That caller apparently was James himself, the New York Post reported. A law enforcement source quoted James as saying: "You know, I think you’re looking for me. I’m seeing my picture all over the news and I’ll be around this McDonald’s."

James was spotted walking in the East Village shortly before New York Police Department officers took him into custody.

New York City Police Department officers stand near the temporarily closed 36th Street subway station. Dozens were injured in a shooting that took place the morning of April 12, 2022. (Nina Pullano/Courthouse News)

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace announced the unsealed complaint Wednesday afternoon and said his office is prepared to prove the charge in court. James is expected to make his initial court appearance on Thursday.

Investigators collected clues they say James left behind after shooting 10 people and leaving others injured from a combination of shrapnel, smoke inhalation and panic.

Bags of evidence from the scene include a Glock 17 pistol manufactured in Australia, a plastic container of gasoline, a torch, the key to U-Haul van rented in Philadelphia, multiple bank cards and fireworks, according to the 10-page criminal complaint. James bought the gun legally in Ohio.

Officers tracked down the U-Haul in Brooklyn, two blocks from a subway stop, and found a jacket with reflective tape that matched the one prosecutors say James is wearing in a surveillance video.

James is from New York City but had more recent addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.

He can be seen passing through a subway station turnstile around 6 a.m. in a video posted by NBC New York. 

After the shooting, it came to light that James posted hourlong, rambling videos on his now-deactivated YouTube account, ranting in some about 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 also goes on racist tangents in the videos and uses slurs, such as saying that Black people “should be wiped off the planet, even though I am one.” He also called the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks “beautiful” and talks about suffering from mental health crises and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

“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,” James says in one video. “There’s nothing going to stop that.”

The most recent video from the account, prophetoftruth88, was posted Monday. 

White supremacists use the number 88 as code, with H being the eighth letter of the alphabet, and 88 thus representing “Heil Hitler.” 

The New York Police Department used a screenshot from one of the videos in the Crime Stoppers flier seeking information about James. 

The complaint against Frank James includes this still from surveillance video shot at West Seventh Street and Kings Highway in Brooklyn, New York, at 6:12 a.m. on April 12, 2022. Encircled in red is an individual wearing a yellow hard hat and orange working jacket with reflective tape, using one arm to carry a backpack and another to drag a rolling bag. (Department of Justice via Courthouse News)
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Categories / Criminal, Regional

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