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NYC subway shooting suspect set to appear in Brooklyn federal court

(NEW YORK) — Frank Robert James, 62, was arrested in Manhattan’s East Village on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said, more than 24 hours into an intense manhunt that began after 10 people were shot on a crowded subway car in Brooklyn, New York.

He was charged in a criminal complaint with committing a terrorist act on a mass transportation vehicle and was subsequently transferred to federal custody in Brooklyn. Breon Peace, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, whose office brought the charges, said James faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

James, who was born in New York City but has lived in Philadelphia and Milwaukee in recent years, will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday, according to Peace. The exact timing was unknown.

The shooting unfolded on a Manhattan-bound N subway car during the Tuesday morning commute, just before 8:30 a.m. ET, as the train approached the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.

A man mumbling to himself on the subway car donned a gas mask and detonated a smoke canister before pulling out a handgun and firing a barrage of 33 bullets, a police official told ABC News. Ten people were shot, with the youngest being a 12-year-old, according to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The gun jammed during the incident, which is believed to have saved lives, a law enforcement official told ABC News.

Smoke poured out of the subway car as the doors opened and screaming riders ran out onto the platform of the station. Bloodied people were seen lying on the floor of the train and the platform.

A total of 29 people were injured, according to hospital officials. As of Wednesday morning, four of the wounded remained hospitalized, New York City Mayor Eric Adams told ABC News.

Evidence recovered from the scene pointed investigators to James. According to the criminal complaint, police recovered two bags containing, among other items, a Glock 17 pistol, a key to a U-Haul rental vehicle and multiple bank cards. They also discovered a jacket with reflective tape near the two bags. Inside the jacket was a receipt for a storage unit in Philadelphia, which records provided by the facility showed was registered to James, the complaint said.

Records provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revealed that the Gock handgun recovered from the scene of the attack was lawfully purchased by James in Ohio, according to the complaint. One of the bank cards was a debit card bearing the name “Frank James,” the complaint said. Records provided by U-Haul showed that James rented a white Chevrolet van from the company in Philadelphia on Monday, according to the complaint.

The U-Haul vehicle crossed states lines from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and then to New York, the complaint said. Surveillance cameras recorded the van driving over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge before dawn on Tuesday and entering Brooklyn, according to the complaint.

At approximately 6:12 a.m. ET, another surveillance camera recorded an individual wearing a yellow hard hat, orange working jacket with reflective tape, carrying a backpack in his right hand and dragging a rolling bag in his left hand, leaving the U-Haul van on foot near West 7th Street and Kings Highway in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighborhood.

Police later located the vehicle parked on Kings Highway, about two blocks from a subway stop for the N-train, where investigators believe James entered the mass transit system.

Senior law enforcement officials told ABC News they also uncovered a number of social media posts and videos tied to James. They’re determining if they’re relevant to the shooting, they said.

The investigation has been complicated by the fact that none of the surveillance cameras inside the 36th Street subway station were working at the time of the attack, a police official told ABC News. The cameras, which are aimed at the turnstiles, didn’t transmit in real-time due to a glitch computer malfunction, a source said. The same glitch impacted cameras at the stops before and after 36th Street. Investigators said they are looking into how this malfunction happened.

James managed to evade law enforcement for more than a day. The New York City Police Department initially deemed James a person of interest in the investigation on Tuesday night before naming him a suspect on Wednesday morning. Wanted for the attempted murder of 10 people, he became the subject of an expansive search by local and federal agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service.

James was ultimately apprehended after police received a tip that he was in a McDonald’s near Sixth Street and First Avenue. When responding officers didn’t see James at the fast-food restaurant, they drove around the area and spotted him near St. Marks Place and First Avenue, where he was taken into custody without incident at around 1:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to police.

Sources told ABC News that James may have called police on himself.

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