The suspect in a New York City subway shooting that left 10 people wounded and traumatised the city was arrested by police on Wednesday and charged in federal court.
Frank James, 62, had been sought by police after Tuesday’s attack. He was apprehended without incident in Manhattan’s East Village after a tip from a citizen, police said.
James, who has previously posted rants on social media about race, mental health and other matters, was upgraded from a “person of interest” to a suspect in the investigation on Wednesday morning. He was the subject of an extensive manhunt that involved hundreds of detectives.
“My fellow New Yorkers, we got him. We got him,” Eric Adams, the city’s mayor, announced on Wednesday afternoon.
According to police, James boarded a Manhattan-bound N train on Tuesday morning and, at 8.24 AM, detonated two smoke grenades before firing at least 33 bullets from a 9-millimetre handgun at fellow passengers. He was wearing a gas mask, construction helmet and an orange high-visibility vest.
Among his belongings found at the scene was a hatchet, gasoline and a key to a U-Haul rental van that police recovered in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
“We hope this arrest brings some solace to the victims and the people of the city of New York,” said Keechant Sewell, New York police commissioner.
James has been arrested on nine previous occasions in New York, according to police, including for possession of burglary tools and a criminal sex act. He also has three previous arrests in New Jersey, they said. The gun he allegedly used in the attack was purchased in Ohio in 2011.
James has been charged in federal court with conducting a terror attack on mass transit. Authorities could not yet say what the motive was for the attack.
James was originally spotted by a citizen at a McDonald’s restaurant in the East Village. Police later found him nearby, at St Mark’s Place and First Avenue.
Tuesday’s attack crystallised residents’ fears that New York was sliding back towards its violent past after a surge in shootings and hate crimes that began during the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to show any sign of abating.
The subway has been a particular source of concern. Several employers now say that it has become the biggest obstacle to convincing their employees to return to the office. That, in turn, is hampering the city’s ability to recover from the pandemic-induced shutdown and clouding its prospects.