Man charged with terrorism offence over New York subway shooting
A man arrested over the shooting of 10 people on the New York subway has been charged with a terrorism offence.
The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, announced the charge against Frank R James, 62, at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
James was taken into custody in Manhattan’s East Village neighbourhood shortly before the conference took place.
Investigators announced on Tuesday afternoon that they were searching for James, who was believed to have rented a van possibly connected to the violence. By Wednesday morning, New York authorities said he was a suspect in the shooting.
Authorities were examining social media videos in which the 62-year-old decried the US as a racist place awash in violence and railed against New York City’s mayor Eric Adams.
The gunman set off smoke grenades in a crowded subway carriage and then fired at least 33 shots with a 9mm handgun, police said.
Five gunshot victims were in a critical condition but all 10 wounded in the shooting were expected to survive. At least a dozen others who escaped gunshot wounds were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.
The gunman escaped in the chaos but left behind numerous clues including the gun, ammunition magazines, a hatchet, smoke grenades, gasoline and the key to a U-Haul van.
That key led investigators to James, a New York City-area native who had more recent addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.
Federal investigators determined the gun used in the shooting was purchased by James at a pawn shop — a licensed firearms dealer — in the Columbus, Ohio, area in 2011, a law enforcement official said.
The van was found unoccupied near a station where investigators determined the gunman had entered the subway system.
No explosives or firearms were found in the van. Police did find other items, including pillows, suggesting he may have been sleeping or planned to sleep in the van.
Investigators believe James drove up from Philadelphia on Monday and have reviewed surveillance video showing a man matching his physical description coming out of the van early on Tuesday morning, the official said.
Other video shows James entering a subway station in Brooklyn with a large bag.
In addition to analysing financial and phone records connected to James, investigators have also been reviewing hours of rambling, profanity-filled videos James posted on YouTube and other social media platforms — replete with violent language and bigoted comments, some against other black people — as they try to discern a motive.
In one video, posted a day before the attack, James criticises crime against black people and says drastic action is needed.
“You got kids going in here now taking machine guns and mowing down innocent people,” James says. “It’s not going to get better until we make it better,” he said, adding that he thought things would only change if certain people were “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of their “comfort zone”.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox