Frank James, the man accused of shooting subway riders in Brooklyn during the Tuesday-morning commute, was arrested a little over 24 hours after the attack took place. He faces a federal terrorism charge for an attack on mass transit, which could result in a sentence of life in prison.
“Thirty-three shots, but less than 30 hours later, we’re able to say — we got him,” Mayor Eric Adams said, announcing the arrest.
The NYPD had recovered video footage of James entering the Kings Highway B/Q subway station in Brooklyn prior to the shooting, wearing a reflective safety vest and helmet that were later found at the crime scene. Three blocks away, police discovered an abandoned U-Haul van James had rented in Philadelphia that was linked to him in part by a key also discarded at the crime scene. ATF officials traced the handgun recovered inside the subway to James, who had purchased it in 2011 from a federally licensed dealer in Ohio. Following the shooting in Sunset Park, James got off the train he is accused of attacking, crossed the platform, and rode another train for one stop before exiting aboveground and disappearing. Later that morning, James was seen entering a subway station in Park Slope, his last known whereabouts at the time.
On Wednesday morning, an emergency alert with James’ description and information on how to submit tips to authorities went out to cell phones citywide. In the early afternoon, the NYPD received a Crime Stoppers tip from a witness who spotted James at an East Village McDonald’s. Responding officers arrived to find James was no longer there. They began to drive around the area and visually identified the suspect, placing him under arrest at 1:42 p.m. at St. Marks Place and First Avenue. He was apprehended without incident, officials said, and transported to the 9th Precinct house; he will be arraigned on federal terrorism charges in Brooklyn.
Law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that James called in the tip himself. Additionally, a security-camera installer calling himself Zack told a passerby that he had spotted James and contacted the authorities.
James, 62, has a lengthy criminal record including a dozen prior arrests, nine of them occurring in New York between 1992 and 1998 for offenses ranging from possession of burglary tools to a criminal sex act. Officials said he had never been convicted of a felony, which would have barred him from legally purchasing the 9mm Glock handgun he allegedly used to mow down commuters during rush hour.