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NYC subway shooter wants to plead guilty to terrorism charges, lawyer says

(NEW YORK) — Alleged New York City subway shooter Frank James wants to plead guilty to federal terrorism charges, his attorneys said Wednesday in a letter to the court.

James, who was charged last week in a superseding indictment with 10 counts of committing a terror attack on a mass transit system, was accused of opening fire on a Manhattan-bound N train in Brooklyn on April 12.

Ten people were hurt in a shooting that prosecutors said terrorized the city. James was caught after initially escaping in the chaotic aftermath of the train pulling into the 36th Street station in Sunset Park.

“Mr. James has advised undersigned counsel that he wishes to schedule a guilty plea to the superseding indictment. If the Court is available, we wish to proceed during the first week of January 2023,” the defense letter said.

The court has scheduled a change of plea hearing for Jan. 3.

The superseding indictment charges James with 10 counts of committing a terrorist attack or other violence against a mass transportation system and vehicle carrying passengers and employees — one count for each injured passenger. He was also charged with a count of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

James had previously been charged with a single terrorism offense to which he pleaded not guilty.

James “terrifyingly opened fire on passengers on a crowded subway train, interrupting their morning commute in a way this City hasn’t seen in more than 20 years,” assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Winik said when James first appeared in court. “The defendant’s attack was premeditated; it was carefully planned; and it caused terror among the victims and our entire City.”

The shooting, which took place during a Tuesday morning commute, set off a 24-hour search for the gunman. The following day, several callers to the New York Police Department tipline said a man matching the description of the shooter was wandering around the Lower East Side and East Village. James himself also called the tip line to turn himself in.

A motive for the shooting remains unclear, but authorities have said James posted a number of “race-based grievances and conspiracy theory narratives” on social media.

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