NEW YORK — Police on Wednesday arrested a man they said opened fire on a Brooklyn subway train during morning rush hour, ending a daylong hunt after the attack left more than two dozen people injured, the Associated Press reported.
Frank R. James, 62, was arrested Wednesday in New York City, CNN also reported. Police identified James as the suspect early Wednesday after initially calling him a “person of interest” the day before.
Meanwhile, a law enforcement official who was not authorized to comment publicly told USA TODAY that a gun recovered at the scene of the shooting was traced back to James. That connection was among the factors that elevated his status from person of interest to suspect, the official said.
Investigators were also looking into concerning videos that threatened violence and appeared to come from James, authorities said. Police initially connected James to the shooting after a key to a U-Haul van he rented was found at the scene of the attack. Police later located the van in Brooklyn.
A surveillance camera at the turnstile of the station where the train stopped was not working correctly, though additional images from the subway line may aid the investigation, the head of the subway system said Wednesday.
WHO IS THE SUSPECT? What we know about Frank James
HOW THE SHOOTING UNFOLDED:Photos, videos show chaos of Brooklyn subway attack
Wearing a gas mask, the gunman set off two smoke grenades and then fired 33 times with a Glock 17 9mm semi-handgun, which was also found in the subway, said Chief of Detectives James Essig said. At least 10 people were shot and at least 19 others were taken to hospitals for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to shrapnel wounds.
Videos taken on the platform of the 36th Street station showed chaos ensue as smoke and subway riders, some injured with gunshot wounds, pouring out of the train. Witnesses at the scene said passengers were covered in blood and shouting as the commotion unfolded.
The attack sparked fear around increasing crime in the nation’s largest subway system, a worry city officials tried to quell Wednesday as they vowed the trains were safe.
Police have not said what they believe to be the motive behind the attack. Sewell said Tuesday the crime was not initially being investigated as terrorism. Major Eric Adams said Wednesday that investigators believe the gunman acted alone.
Here’s what we know:
the sister of Frank R. James said she had little contact with her brother and had not seen him face to face in a long time, according to an interview with the New York Times.
The Times reported Catherine James Robinson confirmed details about her brother and said he was born in the Bronx. He moved often between cities, and the siblings spoke only occasionally on the phone. The last time they spoke was after the death of their sister several years ago, Robinson told the Times.
USA TODAY reached a number listed for Robinson on Wednesday afternoon, but a woman hung up shortly after answering the call.
—Christal Hayes and Ryan Miller
Despite the attack Tuesday morning, subway riders were still streaming in and out of trains Wednesday as New Yorkers and tourists alike bustled throughout the city.
At Hudson Yards in Manhattan, Michelle Gil, visiting from Puerto Rico, said she didn’t see heightened security at the No. 7 train station. “After what happened yesterday, you would expect more police everywhere, but there was nothing,” she said.
Len Burton, who is visiting New York City with his wife and two children, said he was not worried about taking the trains. “It was a one-off incident,” Burton, from Redding, Pennsylvania, said undeterred. “We knew about the incident yesterday, but we went all over the city riding the subway.”
Jasimna Mohmoud runs a vegetarian halal cart outside the 7 station and was so concerned about the incident that she asked her sister, who lives in Brooklyn, to stay home. “The guy is free. It is so scary,” she said. Mohmoud said she wanted the city should to invest in smart scanning machines for weapons. “They check for tickets here but not for knives and guns,” she said.
— Swapna Venugopal
The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Wednesday there was a problem with a security camera server at the 36th Street subway station where the train stopped.
“It seems like that one (camera) had a server problem,” meaning the camera wasn’t sending images to the NYPD, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber told NY1. Appearing on CBS, Lieber said the camera was near a turnstile at the station, but there were 600 cameras throughout the N train line Brooklyn.
“There are images of this fellow that are going to be found,” Lieber said.
The MTA has cameras in all subway stations but not necessarily on each station’s platform, where riders board and get off trains.
Essig said the N train was between the stations at 59th and 36th streets when the shooting began. The shooter was in the second car in the rear corner, and he fled after the train pulled into the station, Essig said.
— Kevin McCoy and Ryan Miller
Hourari Benkada had just gotten on the N train on his way to work and was wearing headphones Tuesday when smoke began pouring into the subway car, he told CNN on Tuesday night from his hospital bed.
Benkada said he heard a woman shout she was pregnant so he went up to help her. He hugged her as the crowd in the train rushed to the back. Benkada said he was pushed and then felt the gunshot in his leg.
People on the train struggled to open the doors to other cars to try to escape the smoke and shooting, Benkada told CNN. He did n’t initially think his wound was serious, but when he got off the train and looked at his leg, “the size of a quarter is gushing out blood” around his knee, he said.
Benkada said he was sitting next to the shooter but didn’t recognize the photos of James that police released. The shooter was wearing a mask, Benkada said.
“I don’t think I could ever ride a train again,” Benkada said.
A neighbor who lived across the street from the shooting suspect in a Milwaukee duplex said he struck her as “angry, loud and alone” for the sixth to eight months they lived near each other.
Keilah Miller told USA TODAY that James lived in an adjacent apartment. She often heard yelling but no one ever entered the apartment with James. “He was just not approachable,” she said.
Miller interacted with James once when she left her keys in the door. She said he banged on her door “and he’s there saying, ‘Don’t do that!'”
Miller said she left her apartment Tuesday after seeing police circulate James’ photos while he remains at large.
MORE ON THE SUBWAY SHOOTING:Brooklyn subway train attack injured about 2 dozen people
Police found two non-detonated smoke grenades, a hatchet, gasoline and the key to a U-Haul van on the train. Investigators believe James rented the van in Philadelphia and police found it later Tuesday in Brooklyn, Essig said.
James has ties to both Wisconsin and Philadelphia, authorities said.
Sewell said police are investigating a number of social media posts appearing to come from James where he mentioned homelessness and Adams. The mayor’s security detail would be tightened out of an “abundance of caution,” she said.
A law enforcement official who was not authorized to comment publicly told USA TODAY authorities were reviewing several social media pages, including YouTube videos appearing to feature James discussing a variety of issues from Black rights and slavery to the recent mass shooting in Sacramento and the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
The videos touch on themes of violence, systemic racism and Black superiority. One video posted the day before the attack, the man in the videos said he wanted to harm people. “I can say I wanted to kill people. I wanted to watch people die.”
Other police videos are reviewing include clips from New York’s subway trains. In a February, a video mentioned the city’s subway safety plan. The man says the plan “is doomed for failure” and refers to himself as a “victim” of the mayor’s mental health program. A January video — called “Dear Mr. Mayor” — is somewhat critical of Adams’ plan to end gun violence, which has become an early focus of the Democrat’s first term in office.
—Christal Hayes and Kevin Johnson
Adams said during an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday morning the city was exploring all “legal” technologies to keep the subways safe and detect any potential weapons entering the system.
Asked about adding metal detectors, Adams said it was a possibility but said the detectors would not be like the ones common at airports, rather less invasive technologies that riders may not even notice.
Adams said a safe and reliable subway system was essential for New York City. “It’s the lifeblood of our city. It’s the great equalizer,” he said on MSNBC.
The attack sparked fears in riders taking the nation’s subway system. Police in other major US cities increased their presence in public transit as a result.
In Sunset Parkresidents were shocked their working-class, predominantly immigrant neighborhood became the center of a violent attack Tuesday.
“Violence on the subway isn’t new to our area, but seeing so many people so terrified and so many people saying they saw people covered in blood, it’s crazy,” said Rogelio Miranda, a cashier at a supermarket near the Brooklyn subway stop .
“Nothing like this happens here,” said Rosario Moreno, who lived in Sunset Park for 17 years. “I feel lost and scared.”
Sunset Park was once predominantly began home to Scandinavian immigrants until people from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic arriving before 1970, followed later by Mexicans and more Central Americans.
Chinese immigrants looking to settle and start businesses outside of the city’s crowded Chinatown began settling in the area during the late 1980s. They often told newcomers from China taking the trains from Manhattan to get out at the “blue sky stop,” a reference to Sunset Park, where the subway lines emerged from tunnels into the open air.
— N’dea Yancey-Bragg and Eduardo Cuevas
Contributing: Kevin McCoy, Gabriela Miranda, Swapna Venugopal and N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY; Eduardo Cuevas, Rockland/Westchester Journal News
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism