New York shooting: Police search for motive in suspect’s video

NEW YORK – Frank James has posted dozens of videos about race, violence and his struggles with mental illness. One stood out for its relative calm: A silent shot of a packed New York City subway car in which he raised his finger to point out passengers, one by one.

Even as police arrested James Wednesday in the Brooklyn subway shooting that left 10 people injured, they were still looking for motives from a series of details about the 62-year-old black man’s life. year old.

An erratic process. Arresting a series of mostly low-level criminals. A cabinet holds more ammo. And hours of rambling, obscene, obscene videos on his YouTube channel lead to a deep, smoldering anger.

“This nation was born in violence, it survives by violence or intimidation, and it will die a violent death,” James said in a video where he adopted the nickname “The Prophet of Doom.” “.

After a 30-hour manhunt, James was arrested without incident after a tip – believed by police to be James himself – said he could be found near a McDonald’s in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Mayor Eric Adams gleefully announced “We’ve got him!” Police say their top priority is getting the suspect, now charged with federal terrorism, off the street as they investigate the biggest unanswered question: Why?

The main evidence, they said, is his YouTube videos. He seems to have views on nearly everything – racism in America, the new mayor of New York City, the state of mental health services, 9/11, the invasion of New York. Russia’s Strategy for Ukraine and Black Women.

A federal criminal complaint cites one in which James talked about too many homeless people on the subway and blamed the mayor of New York City.

“Brother, what are you doing?” He said in a video posted March 27. “Every car I go to is full of homeless people. It was so bad I couldn’t even stand.”

James then addressed the treatment of Blacks in an April 6 video cited in the complaint, saying, “And so the message to me was: I should have had a gun and just start shooting.”

In a video posted the day before the attack, James criticized crimes against Negroes and said that things would only change if certain people were “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of “the area”. their safety”.

Surveillance cameras spotted James entering the subway system’s turnstile on Tuesday morning, dressed as a maintenance or construction worker, wearing a yellow hard hat and orange jacket with reflective tape. optical.

Police said fellow travelers only heard him say “sorry” as he launched a smoke grenade in a crowded subway car as it rolled into the station. He then threw a second smoke grenade and opened fire, police said. In the smoke and chaos that followed, police said James escaped by sliding into a train that passed by the platform and exiting after the first stop.

Left behind at the scene, police said, were a gun, an extended magazine, a collapsed gun, exploded and unexploded smoke grenades, a black trash can, a wheelchair, gasoline and the keys to a car. U-Haul van.

That key led investigators to James, and clues to a life of failure and anger as he plunged between factory and maintenance jobs, fired at least twice, and moved in. Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.

Investigators said James had 12 previous arrests in New York and New Jersey between 1990 and 2007, including possession of stolen tools, criminal sex acts, trespassing, and trespassing. , petty theft and disorderly behavior.

James has no felony convictions and is not prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm. Police say the gun used in the attack was purchased legally at a pawn shop in Ohio in 2011. A search of James’ Philadelphia’s apartment and condo uncovered at least two types. ammunition, including those used with the AR-15 attack pattern. rifle, a gun and a blue smoke canister.

Police said James was born and raised in New York City. In his videos, he says he completed a course at the machine shop in 1983, then worked as a gear mechanic at Curtiss-Wright, an aerospace manufacturer in New Jersey, until The year 1991 when he was punched had one or two bad news: He was fired from his job and shortly thereafter, his father, with whom he had lived in New Jersey, died.

Records show James filed a federal lawsuit against the aerospace company shortly after he lost his job alleging racial discrimination, but it was dismissed by a judge a year later. He said in a video without giving specifics that he “cannot get justice for what I went through”.

A spokesperson for Curtiss-Wright did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

James describes getting in and out of several mental health facilities, including two in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s.

“Mr. Mayor, let me tell you that I am a victim of your mental health program in New York City,” James said in a video earlier this year, adding that he “full of hatred, full of anger and bitterness”.

James said he was later a patient at Bridgeway House, a mental health facility in New Jersey, though that could not be immediately confirmed. Messages left with the base are not returned.

“My goal at Bridgeway in 1997 was to get out of Social Security and get back to work,” he says in a video, adding that he enrolled in a college and take a course in computer-aided design and manufacturing.

James says he ended up getting a job at telecommunications giant Lucent Technologies in Parsippany, New Jersey, but says he was ultimately fired and returned to Bridgeway House, this time not with as a patient but as a maintenance worker. A notice seeking comment has been sent to Lucent Technologies.

“I just want to work. I want to be a productive person,” he said.

Touches of that troubled, earnest man come to life after James’s parked car was hit in Milwaukee. Eugene Yarbrough, pastor of the Zion Wings of Glory Mountain Church of God next to James’s apartment, said James was impressed that the pastor possessed the ability to hit cars. Neither James nor anyone else was there to witness the crash. And James called him up to say so.

“I couldn’t believe it was him,” Yarbrough said. “But who knows what people will do?”


AP reporters Michael Balsamo in Washington, Deepti Hajela in New York, Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia, Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin and Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

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