UPDATE: Police arrested Frank R. James on Wednesday afternoon. He’s been charged with a federal terrorism offense.
SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Frank R. James was upgraded from “person of interest” to “suspect” Wednesday morning in connection with a subway attack in Brooklyn, Mayor Eric Adams said.
Police identified James, 62, hours after 10 people were shot and another 13 were injured on an N train in Sunset Park on Tuesday morning.
James’ name was linked to a U-Haul van sought in connection with the attack, officials said. A key was left behind at the scene of the shooting.
Police connected that to a U-Haul with Arizona plates, which they later located in Brooklyn. James had rented the U-Haul, police said. New surveillance video obtained by PIX11 News on Wednesday shows James after he allegedly parked the U-Haul van near Kings Highway in Brooklyn before the shooting occurred.
“We’re looking to determine if he has any connection to the train,” NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said on Tuesday.
Speaking on WNYC Wednesday morning, Adams said James was now considered a suspect “based on new information that has become available to the team.” Earlier, Adams told the PIX11 Morning News that investigators believe James acted alone. The mayor urged anyone who may come into contact with James to call the police but added that no one should engage or interact with him.
There were some “concerning” social media posts police believe may be connected to James, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said on Tuesday. They mentioned homelessness and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Security for the mayor, who was already isolating following a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday, was increased because of the posts.
“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. There’s nothing going to stop that,” James said in one video.
Rambling, profanity-filled YouTube videos apparently posted by James, who is Black, are replete with violent language and bigoted comments, some against other Black people.
In one video, posted a day before the attack, he criticizes crime against Black people and says drastic action is needed.
“You got kids going in here now taking machine guns and mowing down innocent people,” James says. “It’s not going to get better until we make it better,” he said, adding that he thought things would only change if certain people were “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of their “comfort zone.”
Several videos mention New York’s subways.
A Feb. 20 video says the mayor and governor’s plan to address homelessness and safety in the subway system “is doomed for failure” and refers to himself as a “victim” of the city’s mental health programs. A Jan. 25 video criticizes Adams’ plan to end gun violence.
James has addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia. The U-Haul was rented in Philadelphia.
At the scene of the attack, officers also recovered a 9mm semi-automatic weapon and a hatchet. They found a liquid believed to be gasoline and a bag with commercial-grade fireworks inside.
No arrests have been made. Police described the suspected gunman as being around 5 feet, 5 inches tall. The man weighs around 175-200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gas mask and a construction vest. Police initially said the vest was green, but later officials said it was orange. The man also had on a gray, hooded sweatshirt.
Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).