April 13 (UPI) — Frank James, arrested Wednesday in New York City, will face federal charges for Tuesday’s Brooklyn subway shooting, according to Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
During a live-streamed news conference Wednesday Peace said the charges will include use of a dangerous weapon to cause death and serious injury to passengers and employees.
No one died but 29 people were injured.
Peace said James, 62, will also be charged with one count of violating a federal law prohibiting terrorist and other violent attacks on mass transportation systems.
James could face a life sentence if convicted. Peace said at the news conference that prosecutors intend to show that James traveled across a state line to commit the crimes and also transported materials across a state line to aid in the commission of the offense.
“Yesterday was a dark day for all of us. But the bright spots of the incredible heroism of our fellow New Yorkers helping each other in a time of crisis, the quick response by our first responders, and the hard work by all of our law enforcement partners that has been ongoing truly shines bright,” Peace said.
NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said police made the arrest responding to a crime stoppers tip.
James was taken into custody without incident, according to police.
John Devito, special agent in charge of the New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the gun used in the subway shooting was traced to a 2011 Ohio purchase by James “at a federal licensed firearms dealer.”
The FBI traced a purchase of “color smoke balls” by a man named Frank James from a Wisconsin fireworks shop in June 2021. A smoke ball was detonated during the subway attack.
Police said Frank James was taken into custody in New York City not long after he was named as the top suspect in Tuesday’s attack at a Brooklyn subway station.
Law enforcement officials told CNN that James was arrested by patrol officers in Manhattan’s East Village after he was spotted by bystanders. He is expected to face a terrorism-related charge brought by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
James is suspected of popping a smoke grenade on a subway train during the Tuesday morning commute and then pulling a gun and shooting indiscriminately at riders.
“There was a clear desire to create terror,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, according to WABC-TV. “If you bring a smoke bomb or would you bring an automatic weapon with a gas mask and in a very methodical way injured — injured, attempt to harm — innocent New Yorkers, that is terror.”
Police say that James has ties to Wisconsin and rented a van in Philadelphia before the attack, during which he wore a gas mask and a green construction-type vest resembling a transit worker.
Frank James, 62, was captured Wednesday stemming from the shooting attack at a Brooklyn subway station. Photos courtesy New York City Police Department/Twitter
Ten people were injured by the gunfire and several others were injured in other ways stemming from the smoke grenade and the ensuing chaos. One of the gunshot victims was listed in critical condition at a Brooklyn hospital.
“We’re going to catch this person, and we’re going to bring him to justice and hold him responsible for this horrific act on innocent people,” Adams said before James’ arrest, according to CNN.
Commuters saw a substantial increase in security on Wednesday at subway stations as regular service resumed, including at the 36th Street Brooklyn station where the attack occurred.
Police said they found the rented U-Haul van about five blocks from the Kings Highway station, which is where police believe that James boarded the subway. Inside, they found a 9mm Glock handgun, three ammunition magazines, a hatchet, fireworks and a liquid believed to be gasoline.
Authorities said James maintained an address in Milwaukee and had purchased fireworks, including “canister smoke” from a vendor in Racine, Wis., last year. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that he has no prior criminal record.
The search for James became a nationwide manhunt involving local New York and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Marshals and the ATF. Authorities combed through James’ activities online, including videos posted to social media, for clues as to where he might be.
“The FBI’s and NYPD’s joint-terrorism task force is made up of over 50 agencies and we are fully engaged on this investigation,” said Michael Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI New York field office, according to CNN. “It’s still very much in its early stages.
“Our focus right now — our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”
Tuesday’s shooting was captured on video by multiple people and posted online. It shows the panic that the attack set off — and some of the footage captured the gunman.
Tuesday’s shooting comes as the nation’s largest city fights a wave of gun violence this month — nearly 300 shootings, according to authorities. That’s up significantly over this same time last year.