On Tuesday, the country was reeling from horrific reports of an armed terrorist shooting 10 people on a Brooklyn subway in cold blood.
Now, there’s been a shocking twist. The suspect called the police on himself, the Associated Press reported.
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.
“My fellow New Yorkers, we got him,” Mayor Eric Adams said.
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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.
In recent months, James railed in videos on his YouTube channel about violence in the U.S., ranted about his hatred of whites, Asians, and Hispanics, about his struggles with mental health care in New York City, and he criticized Adams’ policies on mental health and subway safety.
“O black Jesus, please kill all the whiteys,” was one meme he reportedly posted.
There’s no indication James had ties to terror organizations, international or otherwise, Peace said. He seemed to have been acting as a lone wolf.
“Based on the preliminary investigation, we believe he was alone,” Adams said on Good Morning America Wednesday.
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. pic.twitter.com/uOXliUvoJ7
— Commissioner Sewell (@NYPDPC) April 13, 2022
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James didn’t respond to reporters’ shouted questions as he was led to a police car Wednesday afternoon. He was transferred hours later to federal Bureau of Prisons custody and was being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. A message seeking comment was sent to a lawyer representing him.
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 told the AP. They weren’t authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to one source’s statement to ABC News, a man called NYPD Crime Stoppers to say, “I think you’re looking for me. I’m seeing my picture all over the news, and I’ll be around this McDonalds.”
James allegedly gave his name and a description of what he was wearing, according to sources. He said his phone battery was dying and he would be either in the McDonald’s charging his phone or out front, according to sources,” ABC News reported.
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James was gone when officers arrived, but he was soon spotted on a busy corner nearby, Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said.
One bystander, Francisco Puebla, panicked after recognizing James at the restaurant, he said.
“He was just walking like normal, like he didn’t do anything before, like something like a normal person,” Puebla told ABC News.
Passer-by Aleksei Korobow added that he saw four police cars zoom past, and when he caught up to them, James was in handcuffs as a crowd of people looked on.
“There was nowhere left for him to run,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.
The arrest came as the gunshot victims, and at least a dozen others injured in the attack, tried to recover.
“I don’t think I could ever ride a train again,” Hourari Benkada, a Manhattan hotel housekeeping manager who was shot in the leg, told CNN from a hospital bed.
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James detonated two smoke grenades and fired at least 33 shots with a 9 mm handgun in a subway car packed with commuters, police said.
When the first smoke bomb went off, a passenger asked what he was doing, according to an AP review of a witness account to police.
“Oops,” James said, set off a second, then brandished the gun and opened fire, Chief of Detectives James Essig said.
When the train stopped at a station and terrified riders fled, James apparently hopped another train — the same one many were steered to for safety, police said. He got out at the next station, disappearing into the nation’s most populous city.
But James left behind numerous clues at the crime scene, including the gun — which he bought in Ohio in 2011 — ammunition magazines, a hatchet, smoke grenades, gasoline, a bank card in his name and the key to a U-Haul van he rented Monday in Philadelphia, according to a court complaint and police statements to the AP.
Tucked in an orange workers’ jacket, which he apparently tossed on a subway platform, was a receipt for a Philadelphia storage unit. Authorities found ammunition, targets and a pistol barrel in the storage locker and learned he’d been there on Monday, the complaint said.
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The van was found, unoccupied, near a station where investigators believe James entered the subway system. Law enforcement officials told ABC News that some surveillance cameras inside the subway stations had malfunctioned. They were relying on cellphone cameras from witnesses, they added.
Surveillance cameras captured the van arriving from Philadelphia early Tuesday, and a man wearing what appeared to be the same orange jacket leaving the vehicle near the station.
James was born in New York but had lived recently in Philadelphia and Milwaukee, authorities reportedly said. Bruce Allen, a neighbor near a Philadelphia apartment where James stayed for the last couple of weeks, said the man never spoke to him, even when moving in.
James had worked at a variety of manufacturing and other jobs, according to his videos. Police said he’d been arrested 12 times in New York and New Jersey between 1990 and 2007 on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to possession of burglary tools, but he has no felony convictions.
His hours of disjointed, expletive-filled videos on YouTubed ranger from current events, to his life story, to racist remarks about people of various backgrounds. James is Black.
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Some videos complain about Adams, mental health care James says he got in the city years ago, and conditions on the subway. In one post, he fulminates about trains filled with homeless people, the court complaint noted.
In another, he denounces the treatment of Black people in the U.S. and says, “The message to me is: I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.