New York subway attack: Suspect Frank James faces federal terror charge

Police on Wednesday arrested Frank R. James, the man suspected of shooting 10 people and setting off smoke grenades in a crowded subway on Tuesday.

At an afternoon news conference, Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said a tip came into Crime Stoppers saying that James was at a McDonald's on Sixth Street and First Avenue in the East Village. The Associated Press reported that James called in the tip himself.

"Officers respond to the McDonald's. He's not in the McDonald's. They start driving around the neighborhood looking for him," Corey said. "They see him on the corner of St. Mark's and First, and they take him into custody. No incident in taking him into custody." 

Police officers then brought James to the 9th Precinct station house.

"We got him. We got him," Mayor Eric Adams said at the news conference. The mayor, who is recovering from COVID, appeared via video.

"He will be charged with committing yesterday's appalling crime in Brooklyn. I want to commend all of the investigators and analysts who took part in this all-hands-on-deck investigation," NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at the press conference. "Literally hundreds of NYPD detectives worked doggedly during the last 30 hours to bring this together." 

James, 62, has nine prior arrests in New York City and three arrests in New Jersey dating back decades, however, he does not have a felony conviction on his record, Chief of Detectives James Essig said. 

"He is known to us," Essig said, which is police parlance for a person who has had a number of run-ins with law enforcement. 


James is facing a federal charge related to terrorism and violent acts committed against mass transit, according to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace. If convicted, James could face a life sentence in a federal prison.

Authorities have accused James of firing 33 rounds inside a subway car as it pulled into the station in Brooklyn, striking 10 people, several critically. More than a dozen other people were hurt in the subsequent chaos. 

The NYPD said James was the lone suspect in the shocking morning rush-hour attack after calling him a "person of interest" a day earlier. A $50,000 reward was offered for information that led to his arrest. 

James was active on social media, posting videos referring to the United States as racist. He also made what police said were "concerning statements" about the mayor, which led the NYPD to tighten the mayor's security detail.

In a video posted on YouTube, James criticized crime against Black people and said drastic action was needed. In another video, he rambled about the subway system in front of a photo with the mayor Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul in the background.

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The rented U-Haul coming off the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge at about 4:11 a.m. on April 12, 2022. (Via U.S. Justice Department)

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"You see it. I hope so. Of the New York City subway system. And let me just say that their plan is doomed for failure. Their plan is doomed for failure and I will explain to you why," James said in the video.

The suspect had two known addresses in Philadelphia and in Wisconsin. Police were able to identify him after they found keys to a U-Haul van that he had rented in Philadelphia on Monday, according to the Philadelphia Police Department. Those keys were found at the crime scene along with a 9 mm Glock, three extended magazines, a hatchet, gasoline, fireworks and a fuse for smoke grenades. 

Hours later, police discovered the U-Haul parked on the side of the road in Gravesend, just a few miles from the scene. 

Federal investigators said Wednesday that James had purchased the gun at a pawn shop in Columbus, Ohio, in 2011.

"We used every resource at our disposal to gather and process significant evidence that directly links Mr. James to the shooting," Sewell said. "We were able to shrink his world quickly. There was nowhere left for him to run."

Transit officials and police were investigating some cameras at the 36th Street station that were not working at the time of the attack. 


MTA CEO and Chairman Janno Lieber told NY 1 that there are 600 cameras along the N line and that police were able to obtain images from some cameras of the suspect entering the subway system.

The mayor, who appeared on FOX 5 NY morning program "Good Day New York," was asked why they weren't all working.

"We want to dig into exactly how long they were out and how many cameras were out throughout the entire city system," Adams said. "They're doing that analysis. The purpose of those cameras is to assist us in cases like these, and so we are concerned that the cameras were out."

The NYPD said later Wednesday that the MTA owns and maintains all security cameras in the subway system but that police do periodically check that they are working. 

"The camera systems in the subway system are not NYPD cameras. They're owned and maintained by the MTA," Corey, the chief of department, said. "We have access to them. We do regularly look and see which cameras are working, which ones are not. But the responsibility for those cameras belongs to the MTA.

Police asked anyone with information including photos or videos of the suspect and the incident to contact the NYPD Crime Stoppers at any of the following: at 800-577-TIPS (8477), the Crime Stoppers website on Twitter @NYPDTips.