Suspected Brooklyn Subway Shooter Arrested In East Village – Update

By Greg Evans, Erik Pedersen, Jill Goldsmith

Various photos of Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James NYPD via AP

UPDATED, 11:30 AM: Suspected Brooklyn subway shooter Frank James was arrested today by patrol officers in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.

James, identified as a person of interest Tuesday, was named a suspect this morning after police linked him to the gun used in the shooting, police and FBI officials said at an NYC press briefing. He had been arrested shortly before on the corner of St. Marks Street and First Avenue, after police followed up a call to NYPD Crime Stoppers by someone who had spotted him at a nearby McDonald’s.

Read details of the case below.

James, 62, has ties in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York City and is known to police with nine prior arrests in New York state dating from 1992 and three in New Jersey for possessing burglary tools, a criminal sex act, theft, trespassing, disorderly conduct, among others charges. He was charged in Brooklyn federal court for the Eastern District of New York on multiple offenses including acts that prohibit violent attacks in public transit systems.

“We got him,” said NYC Mayor Eric Adams on video. He has been isolating with Covid at Gracie Mansion.

Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said James will face a sentence of up to life imprisonment if convicted. He said his office will prove that “James traveled across a state line in order to commit the offense and transported materials across a state line in aid of the commission of the offense.”

The shooting unfolded at rush hour Tuesday morning at a busy subway stop in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. James released two smoke bombs inside a subway car as the train approached the station and began to shoot inside and at passengers as they spilled out. Ten people were shot and another 13 injured, none fatally.

Investigators said James and, ironically, a number of his victims, fled the scene by boarding a nearby subway train. He was identified emerging at the Park Slope station in Brooklyn shortly after the shooting, but his whereabouts for most of the last day and a half are not known yet. The investigation is still active, police and FBI said, including tracking his movements and determining a motive.

PREVIOUSLY Wednesday: New York City Mayor Eric Adams said today that Frank Robert James is now a suspect, rather than merely a “person of interest,” in Tuesday’s Brooklyn subway shooting that left 10 people injured with gunshot wounds.

James, who remained at large Wednesday morning, now is considered a wanted fugitive. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that police have determined probable cause to arrest James for the attempted murder of 10 people.

The change in designation was made overnight as investigators continued pouring over video — apparently including footage of James entering and exiting the 36th Street subway station — cell phone data, evidence left at the scene and witness interviews. Investigators allegedly also have traced a gun found at the scene to James.

The NYPD released new photos today of the suspected gunman, a Philadelphia man (who also has ties to Wisconsin and possibly Ohio).

PREVIOUSLY, April 12: Ten people were shot and 13 others injured in this morning’s New York City rush-hour subway shooting, city officials said at a press briefing just after 7 p.m. ET.

NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig named Frank R. James, 62, as a “person of interest” in the case (see the NYPD photo above). The man, who has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin, rented a U-Haul trailer in Philadelphia that police linked to the crime by a key that was left at the scene. Police found the rented truck in Brooklyn — about five miles from the crime scene — and it still is being processed, along with the subway car and station.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell addresses the media Tuesday. NYPD via YouTube

The manhunt has been given nearly nonstop given coverage on cable news today, and the suspect remains at large. He is described as a dark-skinned male, wearing and orange and green vest and a gray hoodie.

Police said the suspect boarded the subway at the Kings Highway Station, about eight stops before where the shooting took place at 8:24 a.m. ET. A $50,000 reward for his capture has been posted.

Essig said police recovered a Glock 17 9mm pistol and three magazines at the scene, along with a hatchet, some liquid presumed to be gasoline, consumer-grade fireworks and a fuse, and two used and two unused smoke grenades. He added that 33 bullets were fired and that the shooting victims included seven men and three women.

“We are truly fortunate that was not significantly worse than it is,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said during the briefing.

No motive for the crimes has been determined, but Sewell noted, “Clearly this individual boarded the train and was intent on violence.”

In response to a reporter’s question, Sewell said: “Based on some preliminary information, there are some postings [online] possibly connected to our person of interest where he mentions homelessness, he mentions New York and mentions Mayor [Eric] Adams, and as a result of that, in an abundance of caution, we are going to heighten the mayor’s security detail.”

With a suspect still at large, officials earlier described the incident as an ongoing “active shooter” situation. Police are asking for the public’s help with identification of the suspect, cell phone video or other clues.

“We in the NYPD have all of our resources working on this, along with our partners from the FBI and the ATF,” Essig said.

During the news conference, the commissioner detailed the morning’s events:

“A man who was traveling on a Manhattan-bound N Train opened two canisters that dispenses smoke throughout the subway car. He then shot multiple passengers as the train pulled into the 36th Street Station in Sunset Park. Ten people were injured by gunfire, and an additional 13 were either injured as they rushed to get out of the train station or they suffered smoke inhalation. Some good news is that none of the injuries appears to be life-threatening. As detectives processed the crime scene, they recovered a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, extended magazines and a hatchet. Also found was a liquid we believe to be gasoline and a bag containing consumer-grade fireworks and a hobby fuse.

“About an hour ago, detectives located a U-Haul van in Brooklyn that we believe is connected to the suspect. At this time, we still do not know the suspect’s motivation. Clearly, this individual boarded the train and was intent on violence. We are conducting a highly coordinated investigation that includes NYPD detectives, the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and the ATF, who have been instrumental in tracing the firearm and ballistics.

“The suspect is a dark-skinned male and was wearing an orange vest and a gray-colored sweatshirt. We do have a person of interest in this investigation, but we need the public’s assistance with additional information. We’re asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

“We know this incident is a grave concern to New Yorkers. We cannot lose sight of victims in this city. We will use every resource we can to bring those to justice who continue to prey on the citizens of New York.”

PREVIOUSLY, April 12: Fire officials said the suspect was on the subway train near the 36th Street station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood when he donned a gas mask, took a canister from his backpack and set off some sort of smoke bomb. As the subway car filled with smoke, he began firing his gun.

Commissioner Sewell told reporters during an initial news conference just after noon in New York that the incident is not being considered as terrorism, she added later that nothing is being ruled out.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said during the briefing that she was committing “the whole resources of our state to fight this surge in crime.” She described the shooter as “so cold hearted and depraved of heart that they had no caring about the individuals that they assaulted.”

Another press briefing is expected later this afternoon for updates.

Earlier today, President Joe Biden has been briefed on the subway shooting, according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said that White House senior staff are in touch with New York City officials to offer assistance as needed.

First responders reported that in addition to the shootings — which started on the train, and not, as earlier considered, the subway platform — they observed several suspicious devices or remnants, possibly the devices that filled the station with smoke prior to the shootings. The NYPD reiterated during the press briefing that there are no active explosive devices at the scene.

The shootings occurred just before 8:30 a.m. ET — rush hour — at the subway station or on the train in the area of 36th Street and 4th Avenue area in Brooklyn. “Shelter in place” orders were issued for several area schools.

Hochul tweeted this morning that she had been briefed on the incident. “First responders are on the scene and we will work with @MTA & @NYPDnews to provide updates as the investigation continues,” she wrote.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has been in isolation this week after testing positive for Covid, was not on the scene in Brooklyn. New York city First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo said Adams was coordinating the city’s response from his residence. “We will continue to throw all of city’s resources at this situation,” she said during the briefing.

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