At least ten people were shot, and at least 29 treated for gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation, and other conditions after a gunman filled a rush-hour subway train with smoke and opened fire Tuesday morning.
The shooter was arrested Wednesday and charged with a federal terrorism offense after he called police to come get him, law enforcement officials said.
Frank R. James, 62, was taken into custody about 30 hours after the violence on a rush-hour train, which left people around the city on edge.
James was due to appear in court Thursday on a charge that pertains to terrorist or other violent attacks against mass transit systems and carries a sentence of up to life in prison, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.
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In recent months, James railed in videos on his YouTube channel about racism and violence in the U.S. and about his struggles with mental health care in New York City, and he criticized Adams' policies on mental health and subway safety. But the motive for the subway attack remains unclear, and there's no indication James had ties to terror organizations, international or otherwise, Peace said.
Police had urged the public to help find him, releasing his name and photo and even sending a cellphone alert before they got a tip Wednesday.
The tipster was James, calling to say he knew he was wanted and that police could find him at a McDonald’s in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, two law enforcement officials said. They weren’t authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Officials said the gunfire wounded at least ten people, and at least 29 were injured in some way in the attack at the 36th Street station in the borough’s Sunset Park neighborhood.
According to multiple law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation, preliminary information indicated that the suspect who fled was a man wearing a construction vest and a gas mask.
Photos and video from the scene showed people tending to bloodied passengers lying on the floor of the station and the air filled with smoke. Fire and police officials were investigating reports that there had been an explosion, but the police department tweeted that there were “no active explosive devices at this time.” Multiple smoke devices were found on the scene, mayoral spokesperson Fabien Levy said.
“My subway door opened into calamity. It was smoke and blood and people screaming,” eyewitness Sam Carcamo told radio station 1010 WINS, saying he saw a gigantic billow of smoke pouring out of the N train once the door opened.
A bystander video shows people lying on the subway platform amid what appeared to be small puddles of blood, as a loudspeaker announcement told everyone on the smoke-hazy platform to get on a train. Inside a subway car, a person lay on the floor, encircled by others. Outside the station, a police officer yelled, “Let’s go! Get out of the way!”
Trains servicing that station were delayed during the morning rush hour.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ office did not immediately have more details. Adams was at the mayor’s residence Tuesday morning and was being briefed.
The incident happened on a subway line that runs through south Brooklyn in a neighborhood about a 15-minute train ride to Manhattan. Local schools, including Sunset Park High School across the street, were locked down.
Allan Lee was running his business, Cafe Nube, when a half-dozen police cars and fire vehicles suddenly converged on the block.
“Then they started ushering people that were on the block to the adjacent block and then closed off the subway entrance” near the cafe’s door, he said. When he noticed bomb squad officers and dogs, he was certain it was no everyday subway problem.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement she had been briefed on the situation and said her office would work with the transit authority and police department as the investigation continued.
Police officers were canvassing 4th Avenue, the station's cross-street, asking witnesses whether they were on the train. A sea of emergency lights was visible from at least a dozen blocks away, where a police cordon was set up.
The shootings come as New York City has faced a spate of shootings and high-profile incidents in recent months, including on the city’s subways. One of the most shocking was in January when a woman was pushed to her death in front of a train by a stranger.
Adams, a Democrat a little over 100 days into his term, has made cracking down on crime — especially on the subways — a focus of his early administration, pledging to send more police officers into stations and platforms for regular patrols. It wasn’t immediately clear whether officers had already been inside the station when the shootings occurred.