This Was The 30-hour Search For Frank James, The Suspect In The Brooklyn Subway Shooting

This is how the police manage to arrest the suspect in the shooting on the subway 2:57

(WABNEWS) — A wrench, a neon construction jacket and a gun.

The items, left in a bloody crime scene at a Brooklyn subway station Tuesday morning, offered investigators some of their first clues as they worked to find out who opened fire on dozens of unsuspecting New Yorkers heading to school and work.

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Within hours, those discoveries led to a person of interest. And on Wednesday, as more evidence piled up, authorities named a man as a suspect and urged the public to contact police if they see him.

Witness speaks who recognized the suspect in the shooting in New York 3:47

The suspected attacker called to report himself and was arrested about an hour later, two law enforcement sources said.

Frank James, 62, was accused in federal court for violating a law that prohibits terrorist attacks and other violent attacks on a mass transportation system, a federal prosecutor said. James allegedly fired at least 33 times, hitting 10 people, authorities said. The motive is still unknown, authorities said. WABNEWS has contacted James’s federal defender for comment.

Here’s how authorities gathered the evidence to identify the suspected shooter and what led to his arrest.

First clues to find Frank James

A credit card investigators found at the scene offered a key piece to the puzzle they were tasked with solving.

The card was used to rent a U-Haul van that authorities believed was connected to the shooting, two law enforcement sources said. Internal NYPD emails seen by WABNEWS on Tuesday did not say how authorities believed the van was connected. In the emails, the top commanders shared a file image of a white U-Haul cargo van and asked officers to be on the lookout for a similar vehicle with an Arizona license plate.

An image provided by the complaint against shooting suspect Frank James showed the suspect traveling in a van across the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toward Brooklyn at 4:11 a.m. the morning before the shooting.

The van was located Tuesday in Brooklyn, law enforcement officials told WABNEWS.

It was about three blocks from the Kings Highway Station, where footage showed the suspect entering the subway Tuesday morning before the shooting, New York Police Chief of Detective James Essig said.

“The key to that truck was recovered at the crime scene,” Essig said during a news conference on Wednesday. U-Haul records showed James rented the truck Monday afternoon, according to a criminal complaint. Surveillance footage showed a person wearing a “yellow hard hat, an orange work jacket…with a backpack in his right hand and dragging a rolling suitcase in his left hand,” leaving the vehicle on foot early Tuesday morning. Tuesday at West 7th Street and Highway Kings in Brooklyn, according to the complaint.

No weapons or explosives were found in the truck, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The vehicle had leftover food and it appears James may have slept in it, the sources said. A license plate reader spotted the van driving over the Verrazzano Bridge toward Brooklyn from Staten Island around 4 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said.

Also recovered at the crime scene was a black cart with which the suspect was seen on video, Essig said. He also recovered the orange jacket, he added. A construction helmet the suspect was wearing was found in a dumpster, Essig said.

The shooting happened around 8:24 a.m., authorities said.

A screenshot from video obtained by WNBC shows a man authorities believe to be Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James entering the New York City subway system.

At the scene, authorities also found a Glock 9mm pistol, three extended magazines, two detonated and two undetonated smoke grenades and an axe, Essig said Tuesday. Two officials said they believe the gun jammed during the shooting.

The gun had scratch marks and prosecutors said they believed it was an attempt to “deface the serial number,” according to court documents. James bought it in Ohio in 2011, Essig said.

This is how the shooting happened in the Brooklyn subway Panic in Brooklyn: the images of the shooting in the subway 0:47

By Tuesday night, authorities had pieced together a rough sketch of what happened on the train earlier that day: After boarding the N train, which starts at the Kings Highway station, the suspect opened two canisters “that spewed smoke all over the subway car,” New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Tuesday night.

He then allegedly shot multiple people as the train stopped at the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park, Sewell said. Images captured by witnesses show the chaos and panic of those moments: one video shows smoke rising from the car where the shooting occurred while screaming is heard, while another shows people running from the subway.

After allegedly opening fire on the train, the suspect boarded an R train and proceeded to the 25th Street station stop, Essig said at Wednesday’s news conference.

Less than an hour later, around 9:15 am, he was seen boarding the subway at the 7th Avenue and 9th Street station in nearby Park Slope, Essig added.

Authorities executed search warrants to find James

When the New York police published a message on Twitter on Wednesday morning asking for information on James’ whereabouts, they included a screenshot of one of several YouTube videos the suspect has been linked to.

The videos deal with violence, mass shootings and mental health, often incoherently, and offer insight into a journey James undertook before the attack.

Many of the videos James posted included references to violence, including to a certain group of people he believed had smeared him, as well as broad social and racial groups he seemed to hate.

What the New York shooting suspect said about mass shootings 1:30

In a video posted in February, he criticized a plan by New York Mayor Eric Adams’ administration to address security in the subway system and homelessness, in part through an increased presence of mental health staff, saying the effort was “doomed to fail.” He described his own negative experience with city health workers during a “mental health crisis in the ’90s, ’80s and ’70s.”

In a video uploaded last month, James spoke about having post-traumatic stress, saying he left Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on March 20 and embarked on a journey east, saying he was headed for the “danger zone.” Preliminary information indicated that James mentioned homelessness, New York City and its mayor in online posts, Sewell said Tuesday.

The videos indicate that he arrived in Philadelphia around March 25 after several stops.

Federal prosecutors believe James visited a storage facility in Philadelphia that was filled with ammunition and more weapons the night before the attack, according to court documents. A receipt linked to the facility was found on the jacket recovered at the scene of the shooting.

Authorities executed an authorized warrant to search the facility Tuesday and found ammunition and a “gun barrel that allows a silencer to be attached,” among other things, according to the complaint.

Authorities also served a search warrant on a Philadelphia apartment they believe James rented for a little over two weeks beginning March 28 and found “an empty magazine for a Glock pistol, a Taser, a magazine for a rifle of high capacity and a canister of blue smoke, ”said the complaint.

Frank James arrested, suspect in Brooklyn subway shooting 4:03 James called to turn himself in, sources say

James was taken into custody approximately 30 hours after the shooting. he called Crime Stoppers on Wednesday and essentially said he saw his face on the news and knew he was wanted, two law enforcement sources told WABNEWS.

He said he was at a McDonald’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the sources said. She told the operator that she would be inside the restaurant to charge his phone, a senior law enforcement source said. Moments later, the call was cut off.

But a person who thought they saw James made another 911 call, one of the two sources told WABNEWS.

Officers arrived at the McDonald’s and were able to locate James at the end of the block shortly after a passerby pointed them out, a senior law enforcement source said.

Investigators are now reviewing the camera footage to try to build a timeline of where the suspected shooter was between the time he was last seen in Park Slope on Tuesday and the time he was arrested on Wednesday, the police told WABNEWS. main source of law enforcement.

The investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

— WABNEWS’s Sonia Moghe, Mark Morales, Brynn Gingras, Shimon Prokupecz and Pervaiz Shallwani contributed to this report.



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