Suspected Brooklyn Subway Gunman Is in Custody

Frank R. James, taken into custody

The shooting on Tuesday led to a sprawling manhunt for Frank R. James, who was taken into custody on Wednesday.Credit...Dakota Santiago for The New York Times

A 62-year-old man, Frank R. James, was arrested in connection with the mass shooting on a subway train in Brooklyn, in which at least 23 people were injured. “There was nowhere left for him to run,” the police commissioner said.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The suspect in the subway shooting has been arrested, officials say.
  • After a tense manhunt, the suspect is spotted at a McDonald’s and is arrested without a struggle.
  • ‘We got him’: The police captured the gunman after a tip from the public.
  • Sister of suspect in Brooklyn subway shooting says ‘he’s been on his own his whole life.’
  • ‘When you live in New York City, you’ve got to recover’: At the 36th Street station, more officers and plenty of commuters.
  • New Yorkers riding the subway Wednesday were on edge, but determined.
  • The shooting left at least 23 people injured. Here’s what we know about the victims so far.
  • Frank James, the suspect who was apprehended, left troubling videos online.

The suspect in the subway shooting has been arrested, officials say.

Frank R. James, who law enforcement officials suspect of having perpetrated the worst attack on New York’s subway system in years, was taken into custody on Wednesday, more than 24 hours into an expansive search that erupted after at least 10 people were shot at a Brooklyn train station.

“We got him,” said Mayor Eric Adams, the first official to speak at an afternoon news conference. “We got him.”

Mr. James was arrested in the East Village, officials said, and has been charged with having committed a terrorist act on a mass transit system, according to Breon S. Peace, the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District. If convicted, Mr. James could face a sentence of up to life in prison.

Officials said that Mr. James was apprehended thanks to a tip that came in from a McDonald’s on Sixth Street and First Avenue. Officers responded, and when Mr. James was not present, they began driving around the neighborhood. They found him on the corner of St. Marks Place and First Avenue, one of the busier intersections in the East Village, and took him into custody without incident.

“We were able to shrink his world quickly,” said New York’s Police Commissioner, Keechant Sewell. “There was nowhere left for him to run.”

Officials said that after the attack the day before, Mr. James had left the N train where the shooting had taken place and boarded a local train across the platform, the R train, that several of his victims had also fled to. He exited the subway system at 25th Street and managed to evade law enforcement for over a day.

Mr. James had been arrested many times previously, officials said, including nine prior arrests in New York, mostly for misdemeanors, and three arrests in New Jersey.

His apprehension on Wednesday put an end to a frantic search that began after the shooting in the Sunset Park subway station, which left at least 23 people injured.

Officials said Mr. James was the man who, wearing a construction worker’s helmet and vest and a gas mask, had thrown two smoke grenades on the floor of the N train and unleashed a barrage of gunfire into the car around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

He escaped the scene, but the police discovered an array of belongings on the train that he appeared to have left behind, including a Glock 9-millimeter handgun, three ammunition magazines, a credit card with Mr. James’s name on it and a key to a U-Haul van.

Frank R. James
Frank R. JamesCredit…via New York City Police Department

That vehicle was found abandoned on a street in the Gravesend neighborhood late Tuesday afternoon, about five miles from the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, where the shooting had taken place.

According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court, Mr. James reserved and prepaid for the van from U-Haul on April 6, and picked it up in Philadelphia on April 11. At around 4:11 a.m. on Wednesday, surveillance cameras captured the van crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn.

At 6:12 a.m., according to the complaint, a surveillance camera at West 7th Street and Kings Highway in Brooklyn recorded somebody leaving the van — parked where it was found later Tuesday — wearing a yellow hard hat and an orange working jacket, carrying a backpack and dragging a rolling bag.

The person matched the description provided by at least one witness to the subway attack later that morning.

The vast manhunt for Mr. James, who has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin, included a broad review of security cameras throughout the subway system; a more than 17-block wide ground canvass in Sunset Park for stores’ surveillance footage or other signs of Mr. James; and a search for information on the gun, which matched a serial number in federal records.

But the investigation was complicated by the malfunctioning of at least one security camera in the station where the shooting took place. One senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said that it appeared none of the security cameras were in full operation at the time of the gunfire.

James Essig, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, said that detectives saw Mr. James on video entering the subway system on Tuesday morning at the Kings Highway station on the N line. Video showed him carrying a bag that was later found at the crime scene.

Footage later showed Mr. James exiting the subway system at the 25th Street station, one stop away from the shooting scene, Chief Essig said.

He was next spotted entering the 7th Avenue subway stop in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, more than a mile away, at around 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Chief Essig said. At the time, investigators were just beginning their attempt to track him down.

As part of the investigation, the complaint says, the authorities searched a storage facility in Philadelphia that Mr. James visited the evening before the attack. In the facility, they found ammunition for an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a 9 mm pistol, among other items.

Investigators also seized items — including a stun gun and an empty magazine for a Glock handgun — from an apartment Mr. James rented in Philadelphia, according to the complaint.

Michael Gold and Andy Newman contributed reporting.

After a tense manhunt, the suspect is spotted at a McDonald’s and is arrested without a struggle.

Frank R. James, the suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting, is seen walking out of the Ninth Precinct in Manhattan’s East Village after his arrest on Wednesday.
Frank R. James, the suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting, is seen walking out of the Ninth Precinct in Manhattan’s East Village after his arrest on Wednesday. Credit…Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

The manhunt for Frank R. James, 62, whom police named as a suspect on Wednesday morning in the Brooklyn subway attack a day earlier, involved hundreds of officers from a multitude of agencies. They used methods as modern as scrutinizing video from surveillance cameras and parsing electronic records, and as old-fashioned as a wanted poster. But the capture of Mr. James was in the end a relatively quiet affair.

On Wednesday afternoon, nearly 30 hours after their search began, the police received a tip through Crime Stoppers that Mr. James had been spotted inside a McDonald’s in the East Village.

Several officers were deployed to the fast-food restaurant on First Avenue between 6th Street and 7th Street, the N.Y.P.D.’s chief of department, Kenneth Corey, later told reporters at a news conference. But when officers arrived, there was no sign of Mr. James.

The officers then drove around the East Village before they spotted Mr. James at the corner of St. Marks Place and First Avenue, about a block north from the McDonald’s.

Mr. James went without a fight or any struggle, said witnesses.

Oluwaseun Sanyaolu, manager of East Village Wines & Spirits on First Avenue, was at the register by the front door when a co-worker told him there was a commotion outside. Mr. Sanyaolu said he recognized Mr. James immediately. “As soon as I saw him, I knew who it was,” he said.

Next door, Lee Lloyd was running through inventory inside his bar, the Hard Swallow, which had opened at noon.

“Everybody’s on edge because of what happened yesterday, obviously,” Mr. Lloyd said. “When we saw five cop cars come through, I was like, ‘Oh, man, what now?’”

One of the bar’s regulars ran outside, and returned to report to a disbelieving Mr. Lloyd that police were arresting the suspect.

“They detained him,” Mr. Lloyd said. “He went without a struggle and they put him in the car.”

Aleksei Korobow, a 25-year-old software worker who witnessed the arrest, said onlookers were in shock, not least from the lack of drama after a frantic day and night.

“He was just casually walking here,” Korobow said.

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