Police searched late into the night for the gunman who opened fire Tuesday on a subway train in Brooklyn in an attack that left 10 people shot and again disrupted New York City’s long road to post-pandemic normalcy.
The search focused in part on the man who authorities said rented a van that could be linked to the violence.
Investigators insisted they were unsure whether that man, Frank R. James, 62, was responsible for the shooting. But authorities were examining videos posted on social media in which he denounced the United States as a racist place mired in violence and in which he sometimes charged at the city’s mayor, Eric Adams.
This nation was born in violence, is kept alive by violence or the threat of it, and is going to die a violent death. There is no stopping it,” James said in a video.
Keechant Sewwell, police commissioner, noted that the postings were troubling and authorities beefed up security for Adams.
The gunman threw smoke grenades into a crowded subway car and then fired at least 33 shots with a 9mm-caliber pistol. Five of the people shot had critical prognoses but are expected to survive. At least a dozen more were treated in hospitals for gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation and other conditions.
One passenger, Jordan Javier, thought the first sound he heard was a book falling to the floor. Then there was another bang, people started moving toward the front of the car and realized there was smoke, he said.
As the train pulled into the station, people ran out and headed for another convoy on the other side of the platform. Passengers were crying and praying as they walked away from the scene, Javier said.
I am grateful to be alive,” he said.
The assailant fled amid the chaos, leaving behind the gun, high-capacity magazines, an axe, detonated and unexploded smoke grenades, a black trash can, an organizer cart, gasoline and the key to a U-Haul truck.
The key led investigators to James, who has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin, explained Police Chief of Detectives James Essig. The car was later found, empty, near a train station where, according to investigators, the gunman accessed the city’s subway system, Essig added.
Videos posted on YouTube allegedly by James, who is black, are replete with violent language and bigoted comments, some against other black people.
In one posted on April 11, he criticizes anti-black crime and says drastic measures are needed. Several of the recordings mention the New York subway.
In a Feb. 20 video, he says the mayor and governor’s plan to address homelessness and subway safety is doomed to failure and refers to himself as a victim of the city’s mental health programs. In another on Jan. 25 he criticizes Adams’ plan to end gun violence.
Adams, who is quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, said in a video statement that the city will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized, even by one individual.”