Authorities arrested the gunman who allegedly set off smoke bombs and shot 10 passengers in a packed New York subway car, television station NBC New York reported, citing four law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the case.
Local and federal law enforcement officers had launched a massive manhunt for Frank James, identified as the suspect in the Tuesday morning attack in Brooklyn.
Police said James, 62, fired a semi-automatic handgun that was later recovered at the scene, along with three extended-ammunition magazines, a hatchet, some consumer-grade fireworks and a container of gasoline.
In addition to those shot, five of whom were in critical but stable condition on Wednesday, 13 other people were injured in a panicked rush to flee the smoke-filled train. All of the victims were expected to survive.
Tuesday’s attack was the latest burst of violence that has plagued the largest U.S. city transit system, and posed a new challenge for Mayor Eric Adams, who has tried to halt declining ridership during the pandemic and ensure public safety.
James was apprehended in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood after being spotted by bystanders who posted pictures of him to social media that alerted police, local media reported.
Officials were due to hold a news conference on the investigation on Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities have not ruled out a motive but said it was not being treated as an act of terrorism and that the suspect acted alone.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) says James, who has addresses in Philadelphia and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, left keys to a rented U-Haul van at the crime scene in the 36th Street station, in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.
Investigators found a number of social media posts linked to an individual named Frank James that mentioned homelessness and Mayor Adams, Sewell said. A YouTube account apparently belonging to James was taken down Wednesday “for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines,” the video platform said.
Attempts by Reuters to reach any of the phone numbers associated with James were unsuccessful.
In an interview with the New York Times, James’ sister, Catherine James Robinson, said he had “been on his own his whole life” and that she was surprised by the incident.
“I don’t think he would do anything like that. That’s not in his nature to do anything like that,” she said.
NO OTHER OPTION
On Wednesday morning, with the gunman then still at large, New Yorkers went on with their commuted, saying the violence would not deter them.
“It was terrible. I was sad; I had to explain it to my daughter,” commuter Matthew Mosk said. “I was lucky I wasn’t on the train because I usually commute around that time.”
Another man riding the subway, Nathan Sandidge, said: “I don’t really have any other option. It’s what we have to do to get to work. So, just kind of roll with whatever we have to deal with.”
Ridership has taken a downturn during the pandemic, dropping from 5.5 million trips per week day to an average of 3.3 million last week. New York has also seen a sharp rise in violent crime, including seemingly random attacks on the subway.
The transit violence has included a number of attacks in which passengers were shoved onto train tracks from platforms, including a Manhattan woman whose murder was seen as part of a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
After Tuesday’s attack, Mayor Adams pledged to double the number of officers assigned to subway security. He has prioritized increasing police patrols and expanding mental health outreach programs to combat violence.
The mayor told MSNBC on Wednesday the city was looking at new technologies for metal detectors that would keep people safe while minimizing disruption.
“There are new models that are being used at ball games, ballparks, hospitals, where you’re not stopping to go through your belongings, you simply walk in through a device,” Adams said.