Manhunt for suspect in New York subway shooting

Officers with bomb-sniffing dogs look over the area after a shooting on a subway train, Apr. 12, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Photo: Kevin Hagen/AP)
Officers with bomb-sniffing dogs look over the area after a shooting on a subway train, Apr. 12, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Photo: Kevin Hagen/AP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – New Yorkers were left stunned and alarmed on Tuesday as a mass shooting erupted on the city’s subway at the height of the morning rush hour. 

The shooter fired 33 shots, and 29 people were injured in the attack. Ten people were actually shot, but most of the injuries came from smoke inhalation or the crush, as people clamored to escape. Although five of them remain in critical condition, their injuries are not considered life-threatening, and, remarkably, there have been no fatalities.

The gunman remained at large Tuesday night amid a massive manhunt. Nor is his motive clear. Indeed, even his ties to New York City are not apparent.

Discovering the Shooter: A Piece of Good Luck

The camera at the 36th street subway station in Brooklyn that might have captured a picture of the shooter failed. So police first identified him by eyewitness accounts: a 5’5,” black, heavyset male. 

But a piece of good luck allowed authorities to identify—less than 12 hours after the attack—an individual whom they called “a person of interest” but who, in fact, appears to be the suspect.

Although the shooter managed to escape, he left behind a backpack that contained, among other things, a credit card, as well as the key to a rented U-Haul van. The vehicle was found some five blocks away from where he entered the subway system, and it proved crucial to determining his identity: 62-year-old Frank R. James. 

CNN reported that James rented the U-Haul van in Philadelphia on Apr. 11. He used his Wisconsin driver’s license, showing an address in Milwaukee. He then drove it to New York.

The two cities are about 100 miles apart, and the drive takes two hours. James might have driven to New York the night before to be sure that he would be in the city for the morning rush hour. But he could also have driven to New York early in the morning.

However, it is not clear why he even rented a van. The train service between New York and Philadelphia is very good. 

Frank R. James: What was his connection to New York? What was his Motive?

James had lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shortly before the shootings, he posted a YouTube video saying that he was moving to Philadelphia. But when asked about his ties to New York and what might have caused him to carry out an attack there, authorities apparently did not know. 

James Essig, Chief of Detectives of the New York Police Department, responded to that question at a press briefing on Tuesday evening by saying that it was “still under investigation.” 

Nor were New York authorities able to offer a motive for the shootings, nor was one readily apparent.

Neighbors in Milwaukee, where he had lived until recently, described James as “gruff and standoffish,” according to The New York Times. He appeared to be very much a loner. One neighbor said he was “really weird.” Another described his apartment as “dirty and messy.”

James posted what the New York press described as “bizarre threatening rants on YouTube.” He claimed to have been diagnosed with a mental illness, and he railed against New York’s mental health services, addressing the city’s newly-elected mayor, Eric Adams, “I’m a victim of your mental health program.” 

“I’m 63 now, full of hate, full of anger, and full of bitterness,” James said.

James also held Adams, who only became mayor of New York on Jan. 1, responsible for the city’s homeless problem. 

Of course, such issues long predate Adams’ tenure. And since James lived in Milwaukee, why was he so focused on New York? No answers have yet come to light.

A black man, James had an extremely antagonistic attitude toward whites, whom he seems to think are out to destroy blacks. 

In one of his YouTube videos, James even claimed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed that “whites are genocidal,” The New York Times reported.

The New York Post provided a more graphic account of that video, quoting it directly—including its profanity. 

“These white motherfu—ers, this is what they do,” James said in his video. “Ultimately at the end of the day, they kill and commit genocide against each other. What do you think they gonna do to your black ass?”

A race war, James claimed, would follow the war in Ukraine. “It’s just a matter of time before these white motherfu–ers decide, ‘Hey listen. Enough is enough. These ni–ers got to go.’”