Frank R. James was identified by New York police as the suspect in the mass shooting inside a Brooklyn subway train during which a green construction-vest clad gunman carrying a .9mm caliber handgun shot 10 people during rush hour. It was a chaotic scene that left bloodied victims lying on the subway platform, but, miraculously, all are expected to live. James was taken into custody in New York City by the NYPD on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, a day after the April 12 shooting, police said.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell tweeted, “Frank Robert James had nowhere else to run or hide — and is now in NYPD custody. The work of our detectives is second to none and the dedication of our patrol officers is never ending.” Officials said James was arrested near a McDonald’s restaurant in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. He was taken into custody without incident after police received a tip through Crime Stoppers, officials said.
James is expected to face state and federal charges. He has several prior arrests dating back to 1992, according to police. He was arrested in multiple states.
Frank James, 62, has ties to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, police confirmed. According to police, 13 other people suffered a variety of non gunfire-related injuries. James’ social media accounts indicate he lived in Milwaukee.
Authorities tied him to a U-Haul they believe is tied to the shooter. Frank James rented the U-Haul, they said in a news conference. The key to it was left at the shooting scene. Police are seeking James. Initially, police called James a person of interest; however, New York Mayor Eric Adams later said he was being considered a suspect in the mass shooting. According to CNN, police determined he bought the gun used in the shooting, which was left at the scene. It was purchased legally in Ohio in 2011, CNN reports.
Authorities have not yet determined a motive for the shooting. On YouTube, James shared a video in the name “prophet oftruth88” about a slashing and recent violent crimes in the New York subway. The Pix11 news story featured at the beginning of the YouTube video discussed New York Mayor Eric Adams being questioned about rising crime in the subways and homeless people.
“Here we go again,” James said.
The video then segues into an extended rant featuring photos of people on a screen behind James. He said the people pictured (they aren’t named) were supposed to be helping him but made him “more dangerous.” He criticized Adams, saying “these are the people” he wants to send out to help the homeless. He said most mentally ill homeless people are Black. He ranted about a place called “Bridgeway” and homosexuals.
“They made me worse,” he said without naming the people. The video is dated March 1, 2022. It’s titled “TOLD YOU SO.” He said in another video that he was driving from Milwaukee to Philadelphia.
In another YouTube video, James shared television news reports of a previous mass shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at Molson Coors. In that video, James talked about the Molson Coors shooter, Anthony Ferrill, who was Black, saying that gunman was “discriminated against” and “no one say and do sh*t” until he started shooting people. “And I’ve dealt with it time and time again.” He said he was a machinist, calling it the most “racist” trade in the country. He said there were a “bunch of racist white mother f******” in that trade.
“The vast majority of people, white mother******* are racist,” he says in that video.
Heavy has also uncovered a Facebook page used by Frank James. It contains images of guns and comments on current events, like gas prices, Will Smith, and crime. The page, in the name Frank Whitaker, says that James lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is from the Bronx, New York.
The New York Post reported that the suspect’s gun jammed, preventing further carnage. However, the gunman toted a host of other disturbing items with him, police said, including smoke grenades, two of which he detonated, and three extended magazines. He fired at least 33 times, New York police officials said in an evening news conference on April 12, 2022.
Hourari Benkada, 27, told CNN that he was sitting next to the suspect and was shot in the knee. He described the shooting as lasting two minutes. According to the New York Daily News, the gunman told people to “start running” before opening fire, and said, “Oops, my bad” after detonating a smoke bomb.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Gunman Donned What Appeared to Be a Gas Mask Before Opening Fire, the Police Commissioner Said
Witnesses and police described a terrifying scene in which the gunman began randomly shooting at people in a busy subway train car, after detonating smoke grenades that soon filled the air.
“When [the train] was about to hit 36th Street, we stopped for 5 minutes. He takes out a gas mask from one of his little luggage[s],” a witness told The Post.
“He opened one of his gas tanks, and he said, ‘Oops, my bad.’ He pulls out an ax, he drops it, he takes a gun out, he starts shooting.”
“He started firing randomly into the crowd,” witness Catherine Garcia, 34, told The Daily News. “He probably couldn’t see, because it was black smoke. We just prayed and hoped that he would not just execute us one by one.”
In a press conference in the evening, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said, “We are truly fortunate that this was not significantly worse than it was.” She said the gunman opened two canisters that dispensed smoke throughout the subway car. The latest update was that 10 people were wounded by gunfire.
Authorities recovered a .9mm semiautomatic handgun, extended magazines, a hatchet, gasoline, consumer grade fireworks, and a fuse at the scene. She confirmed that authorities also located a U-Haul van believed to be connected to the suspect, and they don’t know his motivation.
“He clearly boarded the train and was intent on violence,” she said.
The FBI and ATF were at the press conference. She described the gunman as a “dark-skinned male” wearing a vest. Frank James was described as a person of interest.
A police commander said seven males and three females were shot, and 13 other people were injured from smoke inhalation, falling down or panic attacks. He said the gunman was seated in the second car in the rear corner and was wearing an “orange green nylon type construction vest,” gray hoodie, neon green construction helmet, and mask.
Witnesses say he opened up two smoke grenades, tossed them on the floor, brandished a Glock .9mm handgun, fired at least 33 times, striking 10 people, and then fled the scene. Detectives are actively trying to determine whereabouts.
Police found three extended Glock-type magazines, the Glock, a magazine still in the weapon, one in the backpack and one under the seat, 33 discharged shell casings, 15 bullets, five bullet fragments, two detonated smoke grenades and two non-detonated smoke grenades, police said in the news conference. He also had a black milk crate style rolling cart and gasoline. Authorities said they found a U-Haul key that led them to the recovery of the U-Haul van in Brooklyn. They believe James rented the vehicle, releasing his name as Frank R. James.
Speaking in an earlier news conference, Sewell described the attack as a “violent incident” on the Manhattan-bound N line.
Sewell ensured the public there are “no known explosive devices on our subway trains and this is not being investigated as an act of terrorism at this time.”
The commissioner said the gunman, just before 8:24 a.m., “donned what appeared to be a gas mask. He then took a canister out of his bag and opened it. The train at that time began to fill with smoke. He then opened fire, striking multiple people on the subway and in the platform.”
She described him as a “male, black,” about 5 foot 5 inches tall, with a heavy build, wearing a green “construction type vest” and a gray hooded sweatshirt.
The New York Post reported that the suspect was hauling items around in a “rolling milk crate-type carrier.” He also had hatchet and fireworks, Daily News reported, adding that he shot people ages 17 to 49.
“Investigators believe they have identified man who rented U-Haul linked to Brooklyn subway shooting suspect. They say van was driven from PA to NY yesterday. Police also told Jon that the man has a criminal record…ties to NY, PA and Wisconsin,” News4 journalist Natalie Pasquarella wrote on Twitter. She said reporter Jonathan Dienst obtained the information from sources.
CNN reported that authorities identified the suspect from a credit card he left at the scene. However, the NYPD said they identified him from the U-Haul key left at the scene.
Crime in New York – and in the subway – has been a growing concern.
2. Frank James Has a Facebook Page in Another Name That Contains Images of Guns and Comments on the Oscars, Gas Prices, and Crime
Another YouTube video showed James driving, saying he was on his way to Philadelphia. That video is called STOP ONE COMPLETE, and it’s dated March 20, 2022. He described it as the “first leg” of his trip. Authorities believe the U-Haul was rented in Philadelphia.
He said he had left the state of Wisconsin to embark on the trip. And he said, “good riddance.” He added, “a ghetto is a f****** ghetto.”
Heavy has confirmed that Frank James had a Facebook page in the name Frank Whitaker. The page contains images of guns and describes Black nationalism as “black unity,” in addition to criticizing former President Donald Trump and posting about racism.
In October 2021, he wrote on Facebook, “I FEEL LIKE SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.” The Facebook page, which is in another name, but contains photos and YouTube video frames linked to him by NYPD, also contains this photo:
He shared that body bag photo several other times with different captions, including, “Better late than never – payback” and “hurt people kill people – please don’t hurt me” and “it’s never to late to say I love you – only death could stop me.”
In April, he shared a YouTube video headlined “12-year-old boy eating in car shot and killed in NYC.” He shared a video of the Will Smith-Chris Rock slap, captioning it, “EXTREME PROFANITY.”
In 2014, he wrote, Just cuckoo…no cocoa puffs.” He shared posts about gas prices and the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. One of his posts was anti-gay. He wrote, “love thy neighbor. He’s gay, nevermind.”
“I am a firm believer in you don’t know what you can or can’t do until you try,” he wrote.
The page said he worked at “Lucent Technologies,” went to Argus Community, lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was from the Bronx, New York. He’s listed as single. He last shared a memory on April 8, 2022.
He shared this photo:
The Associated Press reported that authorities were showing people a photo of the suspect and an “Arizona license plate number” of the U-Haul truck they were seeking.
“In regard to the multiple people shot at the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn, there are NO active explosive devices at this time. Any witnesses are asked to call @NYPDTips at #800577TIPS. Please stay clear of the area. More provided information when available,” NYPD tweeted.
Mayor Eric Adams told CNN:
I think it’s still a preliminary investigation. This is terror. Someone attempted to terrorize our system. They brought in what appears to be some form of smoke device. They discharged a weapon, and so I don’t want to be premature in identifying that this was or was not. I think at this time, the investigators are going to do their due diligence to properly identify what happened here. And so I think at this time it’s premature to state exactly what happened here. Still new. We’re still unfolding the investigation, but we will come to the source of what happened and we will apprehend the person that’s responsible.
3. The Suspect Was on the Radar of the FBI But Was Cleared After Multiple Interviews, Reports Say
According to Newsweek, The suspect was “previously known to the FBI, having been entered into the Guardian Lead system in New Mexico, though he was cleared after multiple interviews in 2019.”
Newsweek reported that authorities believe he drove to New York from New Mexico. However, other reports indicated he drove from Pennsylvania. Authorities tied him to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in the news conference.
Wisconsin court records don’t show any convictions or charges for Frank R. James.
One woman told The New York Post that there were so many gunshots she “lost count.”
NYC Fire Wire tweeted, “Brooklyn *10-75* Box 7032. 36th St & 4th Ave. MCI – Multiple people shot in the subway. RTF to staging.”
Daily News reported that the man was also carrying construction tools. It’s believed that surveillance cameras inside the station malfunctioned and did not capture the shooting, according to AP.
The color of the suspect’s vest varied. A witness told The New York Post that the suspect was a “5-foot-5 black man, around 170 pounds wearing an orange vest and gas mask,” and said she saw him drop “some kind of cylinder that sparked at the top.”
“I thought he was an MTA worker at first because I was like, I didn’t like pay too much attention. You know? You’ve got the orange on,” she said to the newspaper.
NBC New York described the suspect as “a man about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 180 pounds who was wearing a gas mask and an orange construction vest,” according to law enforcement sources.
4. Graphic Video & Photos Showed the Scene
A graphic photo emerged from inside the station, showing bloodied people lying on the ground. You can see it below, but be forewarned that it’s disturbing.
The Derek French Photo page on Twitter shared the photo and wrote, “Multiple people shot at 36 street station by two people in #sunsetpark. All are currently being transported to the hospital #NewYork #Brooklyn.” He describes himself as a New York photojournalist.
French was immediately inundated by New York news outlets asking to use his photo.
You can see a round-up of photos and videos from the scene here.
5. One Man Described Seeing ‘a Young Guy Who Was Bleeding From the Legs’
Konrad Aderer tweeted, “I was heading into 36th Street Station in Brooklyn when a young guy who was bleeding from the legs said people were injured and bleeding. I’m safe, almost back home #SunsetPark.”
NYPD News tweeted, “ADVISORY: Due to an investigation, avoid the area of 36th Street and 4th Avenue area in Brooklyn. Expect emergency vehicles and delays in the surrounding area.”
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