Frank James, suspected shootout on New York subway, charged in Brooklyn

Frank James, the public safety troll accused of shooting a New York City subway train before leading police last month on a 30-hour manhunt that ended when he called police, confessed on Friday on not guilty.

James, 62, was charged with two counts, including counting federal terrorism against a mass transit system, for a horrific attack in a subway car in Sunset Park, Brooklyn on April 12 that injured at least two dozen people. Authorities say James, wearing an orange safety vest and yellow hard hat, released two smoke bombs and opened fire. He allegedly used a Glock 17 pistol bought in Ohio and hit 10 people on the N to Manhattan subway, in one of the worst public transit attacks in decades. Others were injured in the ensuing chaos.

Miraculously, no one was killed. During his brief 20-minute indictment in Brooklyn federal court on Friday, James sat very still at the defense table when Judge William Kuntz asked him if he understood the details of the indictment. Two US court officials sat behind James, who was wearing khaki prison jumpsuits and a blue mask under his nose.

“Pretty good,” James replied at one point, before the judge asked him to describe his educational history and suitability for the trial.

As Kuntz read his indictment, James followed along with a printed copy of his lone federal defense attorney.

When asked how he pleaded the charges against him, James leaned into the microphone and clearly declared “not guilty”.

James faces a life sentence if convicted.

While any ultimate motive for the gruesome attack remains unclear, prosecutors have noted that James was prone to ugly, politically charged rants on social media, including one in which he belittled the New York City subway system and Mayor Eric Adams.

“What are you doing bro? What’s happening with this homeless situation?” James said in a video. “Every car I’ve driven[s] crammed with homeless people. It was so bad I couldn’t even stand.”

Prosecutors allege that James fled the scene of the shooting after the incident but left a wealth of evidence behind. The shipment included the 9mm Glock, three extended-capacity magazines, a backpack, a bag of fireworks and smoke canisters, a hatchet, a spray bottle of gas, and a credit card used to rent a U-Haul truck in Philadelphia.

Cops say he also left an orange jacket with reflective tape on the subway platform with a receipt in one of his pockets for a Philadelphia storage unit that became crucial to his identification.

“Lyft records show that James visited the camp at approximately 6:17 p.m. on April 11, 2022, the day before the attack,” the complaint reads.

Investigators said they searched the storage unit and found “9mm ammunition, a threaded 9mm pistol barrel that admits a silencer or suppressor.” [sic] Attachable targets and .223 caliber ammunition to be used with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.”

In an apartment James rented for 15 days in Philadelphia, the complaint said investigators also found “an empty magazine for a Glock pistol, a taser, a high-capacity rifle magazine and a blue smoke canister [sic].”

Police say James used the same credit card to rent a U-Haul in Philadelphia days before the incident. The vehicle was found in Brooklyn, about five miles from the crime scene.

After investigators established James’ identity, they dug into his story. NYPD detective chief James Essig previously told reporters that he had nine arrests in New York City between 1992 and 1998, including possession of burglary tools, criminal sexual conduct, theft of services and criminal tampering. He also has a criminal history in Wisconsin and New Jersey, where he previously resided.

Neither offense was a felony, meaning the 9mm Glock he allegedly used in the attack was legally obtained. The Columbus Police Department confirmed to The Daily Beast that James bought the gun over the internet in Ohio 11 years ago. To comply with state law, he had it shipped to a local pawn shop, according to Jeff Brant, an official with the department’s property confiscation division.

When authorities looked into James’s story, they uncovered several disturbing videos on his YouTube and Facebook channels in which he threatened violence and opened up about his mental health issues, the criminal complaint says. In YouTube videos posted before the attack, James also made racist comments and spread conspiracy theories.

In one video, James said, “And the message to me is, I should have gotten a gun and just started shooting motherfuckers.”

Despite the leads and extensive footprint, it was the suspect himself who ultimately gave authorities the lead as to his whereabouts – he called CrimeStoppers from a local McDonald’s to end the manhunt. Two law enforcement sources previously told The Daily Beast that James called from the fast food joint but left before police arrived.

Three “Good Samaritans,” one of whom was identified as a 21-year-old camera installer named Zach, also spotted him a few blocks away waving at officers, officials said. Frank James, suspected shootout on New York subway, charged in Brooklyn


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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