In the hundreds of hours of videos that 62-year-old accused subway shooter Frank James left online, using the name Prophet of Doom, he rambled ominously about the ongoing downfall of society, his hatred for Black women, and, chillingly, commented at least twice on previous mass shootings. (“I can almost understand how a motherfucker could go out here and just start shooting people for no fucking reason,” he said, of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 60 people and the suspect.) In two videos located by Motherboard, he also shed light on a more prosaic mystery, revealing that he worked for a period of time in an Amazon warehouse, and also, briefly, as a DoorDash driver. In one video, James appears wearing a beanie with an Amazon logo in in it; in another, he complains about standing on his feet for “nine hours a day, four days a week,” and about an unnamed female supervisor against whom he seems to have a grudge.
"They're bullshit," James said angrily of Amazon in one video, referring to going on disability leave from the job.
(“Mr. James worked for Amazon for a period of about six months that ended a year ago,” Amazon told Motherboard. DoorDash confirmed that James briefly worked for it.)
James is accused of opening two gas canisters on a Brooklyn subway and then opening fire on passengers, shooting ten people and injuring 19 more; he was arrested on Wednesday afternoon. Those who knew James had very little to say about his day-to-day life; his sister told the New York Times that James has “been on his own his whole life” and that she hadn’t had contact with him for years. Motherboard visited a Philadelphia address at which, according to online databases, a 91-year-old woman related to James lived, but neighbors said that she was dead and that they were unfamiliar with Frank James.
James seemed to have moved repeatedly—online databases list addresses for him in Columbus, Philadelphia, the Bronx, and several cities in New Jersey—and clues about his life are largely pinned to where he’s been arrested on previous criminal chargers. James was arrested for making terroristic threats in New Jersey in the 1990s, a charge which was ultimately reduced to harassment, and officials told the Times that he was also arrested numerous times in New York, including once for a criminal sex act. James is also believed to have had ties to Wisconsin, and said in videos that he’d recently moved from Milwaukee to Philadelphia.
All of this left an open question about how he earned money (and how he’d had so much time to produce hours upon hours of video content for sites like YouTube and Facebook as well as a host of other, lesser known video-sharing sites). In a video he uploaded in 2021, he said he’d developed pressure sores on his feet and an ingrown toenail working in what he indicated was an Amazon warehouse “moving and reaching” all day. “The pain is unbearable,” he said.
In addition, James added, “Then I gotta deal with the disability and leave, whatever, from my job and shit, from Amazon, deal with them. And they’re bullshit. And there’s one broad, I’m definitely going to call her out. She called up with some bullshit. That’s the second time she did some shit like that to me. I didn’t get her name this time. But next time I talk to her, it’s going to be on. People got a lot of shit with them, man, that’s all I can say.”
In the same video, James said he’d also tried driving for DoorDash the previous day. “Man, these motherfuckers are crazy,” he said, laughing. “I drove like 12 fucking miles to bring a motherfucker two coffees and a latte. What the fuck is that? I think I made like four bucks for that shit.” Afterwards, he said, he did a Walmart run and delivered them. “That was cool, they were only a couple miles apart.” He worked 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and made about $45, he said. “But I’m not doing that shit no more. Fuck that.”
He needed, he said “to get more strategic.” He would drive that far, he said, “if it was a white motherfucker” to whom he was delivering food. He talked about a white woman, who he referred to as a “bitch,” that he delivered donuts too. “But then she gave me a $4 tip, so, shit,” James said laughing.
In the same video, James railed about Black women and a conspiracy to keep Black men out of work.
“They talk about conspiracies, and, you know, the covid vaccine is a conspiracy to try to do something to us,” he said in the video. “And again I say the conspiracy was what was done in the ‘70s, when they separated the Black male from the Black female in various ways. One was of course the welfare system, we know that, where they said to the Black woman, ‘Hey we’re going to give you a check and a place to live but you can’t have no man in the house.’ Can’t be no father, kids cannot be in the household. And then the second way is by this promotion of this, what’s that shit? Feminism. The woman’s rights movement. It’s an offshoot of the Black rights movement, right? We want our rights, so why shouldn’t women want their rights? But there was a side effect to that shit. Because what they simultaneously did was advance the Black woman over the Black man. Where the Black woman could get advanced in her workplace, make more money, have more opportunities for jobs and shit than the Black male could. And that’s by design. So those are conspiracies right there.”
In another video, James wore sunglasses and an Amazon beanie; he was wearing the hat, he said, to be able to distinguish the video from many others “I have on my phone.”
According to the Department of Justice, James faces life in prison if convicted in the subway shootings.
This article has been updated to add comment from DoorDash.