NYC subway shooting suspect tipped off police himself

Northeast

NEW YORK (NewsNation) — A man wanted in an attack on a subway train in Brooklyn that left more than 10 people injured was arrested Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement officials said.

“We got him,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said during a news conference.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Frank R. James, 62, was stopped by NYPD officers at 1:42 p.m. and taken into custody without incident about 30 hours after the shooting.

Police said they were able to track James as he boarded another train after the shooting and traveled one stop.

Law enforcement officials say the person who tipped off police was the suspect himself. James reportedly called NYPD’s tip line to say he was at a McDonald’s in Manhattan’s East Village and to tell authorities to come and get him.

James was not at the fast-food restaurant when officers arrived, but he was arrested shortly afterward on a busy corner nearby.

James is accused of conducting a violent attack on a mass transportation vehicle. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the charge, terrorist attacks or other violence against a mass transportation system, is in connection to the subway shooting. If convicted, James faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

There is no indication that James had ties to terror organizations — international or otherwise, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.

“As alleged, the defendant committed a heinous and premeditated attack on ordinary New Yorkers during their morning subway commute,” Peace said. “All New Yorkers have the right to expect that they will be safe as they travel throughout our great city and use our vital transportation systems. I am grateful to our law enforcement partners, the first responders and the everyday New Yorkers who stepped up during this crisis and showed the best of our city. And we continue to pray for the victims and their loved ones as they recover from this traumatic event, both physically and emotionally.” 

Police say James fired his gun 33 times. The motive behind the shooting remains unclear.

James was first designated as a person of interest Tuesday afternoon and declared a suspect Wednesday morning.

Investigators believe James rented a U-Haul after a van key was found among evidence at the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The van was recovered about a 30-minute drive from the station.

James has addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia, where the U-Haul was rented, officials said. A $50,000 reward was being offered for any information that leads to James’ arrest, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The MTA and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 each offered $12,500 in reward money, and the New York City Police Foundation offered an additional $25,000.

Crime scene photos obtained by NewsNation show the gun James allegedly left behind, a 9-millimeter Glock-17 with an extended magazine with rounds still inside on a seat of a subway car, with a hatchet on the floor nearby. He also allegedly left a bag with consumer-grade fireworks inside and gasoline in close proximity.

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Witnesses said the gun jammed, and the gunman dropped it as he fled the car.

“We are truly fortunate that this was not significantly worse than it is,” Sewell said.

Police say James has posted dozens of videos online, making lengthy rants with violent and bigoted themes, and more recently criticized Mayor Adams.

Peace’s office said, “In videos (James) posted publicly on YouTube before the attack, James made various statements about the New York City subway system. Among other things, James addressed statements to New York City’s mayor: “What are you doing, brother? What’s happening with this homeless situation?” and “Every car I went to (was) loaded with homeless people. It was so bad, I couldn’t even stand.” James also made statements, in sum and substance, about various conspiracy theories, including, “And so the message to me is: I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting motherf——.”

Sewell called the posts concerning and boosted the mayor’s security detail.

“So we’re not calling them threats,” Sewell said. “He made some concerning posts, or someone made some concerning posts. We cannot attribute it to that individual yet because it is under investigation, but out of an abundance of caution, we’re going to tighten the mayor’s security detail.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called it an attack that speaks to a larger issue, saying, “I’m committing the full resources of our state to fight this surge in crime; this insanity that is seizing our city, because we want to get back to normal.”

James is expected to make his initial court appearance Thursday before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.

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