The man wanted for opening fire on a New York City subway car during rush hour, injuring 29, has been arrested.
Frank James, 62, was arrested by patrol officers in Manhattan’s East Village.
The alleged gunman had been at large for more than 24 hours since the shooting, and New York City had been on high alert.
Witnesses say the gunman got on the subway wearing a gas mask and reflective vest, and launched a smoke bomb into a crowded subway car on the N-train in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, around 8:30 Tuesday morning, and opened fire.
Investigators later found a gun, discarded at the scene, and a bag containing explosives and a credit card, which ultimately led them to name James as the suspect.
There are conflicting reports into how exactly the suspect was caught. According to the Associated Press, law enforcement officials said that James himself called in a tip and told police to come arrest him at an East Village McDonald’s. He wasn’t there when police arrived, but they spotted him nearby, the sources told AP.
However, an eagle-eyed guy named “Zack”—regaled online as a New York hero—also said he spotted the suspect outside a shop on Wednesday and called it in.
New York and federal authorities gave a press conference announcing the arrest. In addition to state charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said they’d filed a federal complaint accusing the alleged gunman of committing a terrorist attack on mass transit.
VICE News has learned James had previously been convicted of making “terroristic threats” in New Jersey in the mid-1990s.
During the press conference, a spokesperson for the ATF said the suspect had purchased his weapon—a 9 mm Glock handgun—legally from a federal firearms licensee in Ohio in 2011. He fired his weapon 33 times in total during Tuesday morning’s attack.
It’s still not clear where the suspect went after opening fire. Authorities said they were still piecing together his movements, and the investigation was still very fresh. “His arrest was literally minutes ago, he just arrived at the precinct,” said James Essig, NYPD’s chief of detectives.
A local NBC affiliate, citing law enforcement sources, said that the suspect had continued riding the subway later on Tuesday—a Metrocard that he’d paid for with his credit card was swiped at around 6 p.m. at a Brooklyn subway station.
On YouTube, James had posted angsty, straight-to-camera diatribes under multiple channels, including prophetoftruth88, in which he sometimes referred to himself as the “prophet of doom.” He glorified violence, criticized Black culture, rambled about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, held forth on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and declared that global warming means the world’s population “has to be reduced.” He said that thinking about desk workers dying in the 9/11 terror attacks brought him joy.
“We live in a world of fuck-faces and scumbags,” he declared. “When you see me happy when I watch videos of 9/11, that’s why.”
Online, James had long appeared to be focused on violence.
In a video from April 5, titled “Sensible Violence,” he put together a montage of more than 20 minutes of news clips on recent shootings around the country, including a mass shooting in Sacramento that left six dead.
“They’re saying that’s senseless violence,” he said. “Well, I’m saying, no, it’s not senseless violence; it’s violence that fucking makes sense if you think about it…. It’s not a fucking mystery.”
He regularly commented on acts of violence, at times weighing in with conspiracy theories. After the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas in October 2017, he shared a video to one of his Facebook pages promoting a right-wing conspiracy that the massacre could have been a “false flag.”
"After 9/11, you just don't know. Any-fucking-thing is possible. It could have been a false flag shooting,” he said.
“Those false-flag operations are going to inspire other motherfuckers, real lone nuts, to go out here and start shooting motherfuckers,” he said.
This is a developing story.
Additional reporting by Anna Merlan.