Police Search for Gunman in Attack on Brooklyn Subway
The police in New York on Tuesday evening identified a man they called a “person of interest” in the mass shooting on a crowded subway train in Brooklyn during the morning rush earlier that day that injured nearly two dozen people, five of them critically.
The man, Frank R. James, 62, had rented a U-Haul van in Philadelphia, the police said. A key to the van, they said, was found in a collection of belongings on the train that they believed belonged to the gunman, including a Glock 9-millimeter handgun, three ammunition magazines, a hatchet, fireworks and a liquid believed to be gasoline.
The police found the van abandoned on a street late Tuesday afternoon, about five blocks from the Kings Highway station, where they say the gunman had gotten on the subway, and five miles from the 36th Street station, where the shooting unfolded.
Mr. James remains at large, James Essig, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, said in a news conference at police headquarters.
“We are endeavoring to locate him to determine his connection to the subway shooting, if any,” Chief Essig said.
Mr. James has addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin, the police said.
He appeared to have posted dozens of videos on YouTube, where he riffed off news events in long, vitriolic rants. He blamed Black women for violence among Black people and pointed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as evidence that whites are genocidal.
Shortly before 8:30 a.m., the police said, a heavyset, dark-skinned man in a construction vest and construction helmet donned a gas mask as a crowded N train approached the 36th Street station in the Sunset Park neighborhood, tossed two smoke grenades on the floor of the car, and began firing the gun. Thirty-three shots later, he fled.
Ten people were hit by gunfire, the police said. Five of the victims were critically injured, but none of their wounds were life-threatening, the Fire Department said. The 10 gunshot victims made the shooting the worst in the history of the New York City subway. Another 13 people suffered injuries related to smoke inhalation, falls or panic attacks, Chief Essig said.
The shooting came as the city was already struggling to cope with both a rise in shootings citywide and an increase in crime and disorder in the subway that has scared commuters from returning to a transit system that saw ridership plummet during the pandemic. It set off panic and chaos aboard the train, in the station and the surrounding streets and sent schools in the vicinity into lockdowns that lasted much of the day.
Mayor Eric Adams said that the search for the gunman was hampered by the fact that at least one security camera at the 36th Street subway station that might have captured the scene was not operating.
The N train snakes through working-class neighborhoods filled with immigrants from all over Asia and Latin America. As the shooting unfolded and the doors of the train opened, sending smoke billowing through 36th Street station, fearful riders fled, many of them hurrying onto an R train sitting across the platform. Subway seats and cars were streaked with blood as people called for help.
The man whom the police have identified as a person of interest in the subway attack in Brooklyn appears to have posted dozens of videos on social media in recent years — lengthy rants in which he expressed a range of harshly bigoted views and, more recently, criticized the policies of New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams.
The man, Frank R. James, 62, has addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia, the police said. He is the subject of a search effort as investigators seek to determine any connection he may have had to the shooting at a Brooklyn subway station on Tuesday morning.
He was not named as a suspect, and the police identify someone as a person of interest when they believe the individual may have information related to a crime. But New York’s police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, said that citizens should call with any information they had on Mr. James.