Brooklyn subway shooting suspect arrested

NEW YORK – A man who posted numerous social media videos denouncing the United States as a racist place steeped in violence and recounting his battle with a mental illness was arrested Wednesday afternoon, a day after he was arrested in an attack on a 10 people were injured by gunfire in the Brooklyn subway.

Frank R. James, 62, was taken into custody in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press. Further details were not immediately available.

Police had initially said on Tuesday that James was wanted for questioning over hiring a van that may have been linked to the attack, but were unsure if he was responsible for the shooting. Mayor Eric Adams said in a series of media interviews Wednesday morning that investigators had upgraded James to a suspect, but gave no details other than “new information available to the team.”

The gunman fired smoke grenades into a crowded subway car and then fired at least 33 shots with a 9mm handgun, police said. Five gunshot victims were in critical condition, but all 10 wounded in the gunfight were expected to survive. At least a dozen others who escaped gunshot wounds were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.

The gunman escaped in the chaos but left behind numerous clues including the gun, ammo magazines, a hatchet, smoke grenades, gas and the key to a U-Haul van.

That key led investigators to James, a native of New York who had more recent addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.

Federal investigators determined that the gun used by James in the 2011 shooting was purchased at a pawn shop — a licensed gun dealer — in the Columbus, Ohio area, a police official said

The van was found unmanned near a station where investigators determined the gunman had entered the subway system. No explosives or firearms were found in the van, a police officer said. Police found other items, including pillows, suggesting he may have been sleeping or planned to sleep in the van, the officer said.

Investigators believe James drove over from Philadelphia on Monday and viewed surveillance video showing a man matching his physical description exiting the van early Tuesday morning, the officer said. Another video shows James entering a Brooklyn subway station with a large bag, the official said.

In addition to analyzing financial and phone records related to James, investigators reviewed hours of rambling, obscene videos James had posted to YouTube and other social media platforms — crammed with violent language and bigoted comments, some against other black people — during they were trying to identify a motive.

In a video posted a day before the attack, James criticizes crimes against black people and says drastic action is needed.

“You’re making kids take machine guns and mow down innocent people right now,” says James. “It doesn’t get better until we make it better,” he said, adding that he believes things would only change if certain people were “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of their “comfort zone.”

In another video, he says: “This nation was born in violence, it will live on by violence or the threat of it, and it will die a violent death. Nothing stands in the way of that.”

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called the posts “concerning” and officers tightened security for Adams, who was already isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

Several of James’ videos mention New York’s subways. A Feb. 20 video said the mayor-governor’s plan to address homelessness and safety in the subway system was “doomed to fail,” and described himself as a “victim” of the city’s mental health programs. A Jan. 25 video criticized Adams’ plan to end gun violence.

The Brooklyn subway station, where passengers fled the smoky train in the attack, was open as usual Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the violence.

Commuter Jude Jacques, who takes the express train to his job as fire safety director about two blocks from the shooting range, said he prays every morning but has a special request on Wednesday.

“I said, ‘God, it’s all in your hands,'” Jacques said. “I was nervous 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 of New York contributed to this report, and Michael Kunzelman of College Park, Maryland, contributed.

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