A man arrested for shooting 10 people on a crowded Brooklyn subway train has been charged with federal terrorism.
- 62-year-old Frank R James was taken into custody after a day-long search
- Police were informed after being seen at McDonald’s
- In a video posted online, Mr James said people should be “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of their “comfort zones”.
US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Brian Peace, announced the charge against Frank R. James, 62, at a press conference Wednesday afternoon local time.
Mr James was taken into custody in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood shortly before press release.
“My fellow New Yorkers, we got him,” said Mayor Eric Adams.
“He had nowhere left to run,” said New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
Five people were in critical condition in the attack during an early morning rush Tuesday local time, but all 10 gunmen were expected to survive.
The charge against Mr. James carries a sentence of life imprisonment and pertains to terrorist or other violent attacks against mass transportation systems.
There was no indication that Mr James had links to terrorist organizations – international or otherwise – and his motive was unclear, Mr Peace said.
Police said the gunman lobbed a grenade at a crowded metro car and then fired at least 33 rounds with a 9mm gun.
At least a dozen people who survived the gunshot wounds were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.
The shooter fled into chaos, but left behind several clues, including a gun, ammunition magazines, a hatchet, smoking grenades, gasoline and the keys to the U-Haul rental van.
Alleged gunman accused of absconding
Police said that as the frightened passengers fled the attack, Mr. James apparently boarded another train – the same number of people being escorted to safety.
He leaves at the next station, disappearing into the country’s most populous city.
The police launched a massive effort to trace him, release his name and issue mobile phone alerts.
Department chief Kenneth Corey said he received information that he was at a McDonald’s in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood.
When officers arrived, Mr. James was gone, but he soon saw him in a busy nearby corner.
Federal investigators determined that the gun used in the shooting was purchased by Mr. James from a pawnshop – a licensed firearms dealer – in Ohio in 2011.
The rental van was found lying vacant, near a station, where investigators determined the gunman had entered the subway system.
A law enforcement officer said no explosives or firearms were found in the van, but police found other items, including pillows, that suggest he may have been sleeping or planning to sleep in the van.
online video checked
In recent months, Mr. James has featured in online videos about racism and violence in America and his experiences with mental health care and subway safety in New York City.
In addition to analyzing financial and telephone records involving Mr James, investigators were reviewing videos posted by him on YouTube and other social media platforms as they tried to decipher a motive.
In a video posted the day before the attack, Mr James criticized crimes against black people and said drastic action was needed.
In a video, Mr. James said, “You kids are now going here with machine guns and killing innocent people.”
“It’s not going to get better until we make it better,” he said, adding that things will only change if some people are “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of their “comfort zone”.
In another video he said: “This nation was born in violence, it is kept alive by violence or its threat and it is about to die a violent death. There is nothing to stop it.”
His posts are filled with violent language and scathing comments, some against black people.
Police Commissioner Sewell called the posts “related”.
Many of Mr. James’s videos refer to New York’s subways.
In one he said the mayor and governor’s plans to address homelessness and safety in the subway system were “doomed to fail” and called himself a “victim” of the city’s mental health programs.
A video from January criticized Mr Adams’ plan to end gun violence.