New York City Subway Shooting J. David Goodman

Ariana Warner

A regular morning subway trip ended in a deadly mass shooting. The shooting took place on the subway in Brooklyn, New York injuring 29 people.  After a brief manhunt, tips even from the gunman himself and evidence left at the scene, the suspect was identified as Frank James, 62.

Frank James, now a former construction worker, started his day as normal. At some point he left his site and boarded a train. As the doors opened and closed later pulling away, the construction worker sat at the rear of the second car. He then stood and pulled on a gas mask, and removed a canister from one of his bags. Smoke then filled up the subway car, “Oops. he said, “My bad,” according to a rider standing nearby.

As the train continued on, James pulled out a handgun. The chaos began to arise, while the conductor was unaware of what was going on. Eric Acevdeo, a teacher on his way to school, was standing at one of the stations the subway passed, and witnessed the lights in the second car suddenly darken, says CNN. After the lights dimmed, Acevedo heard three shots. Inside the car, a nightmare was taking place, a mass shooting was unfolding.

Smoke filled the air as the gunman fired shot after shot. The 35 people on the subway car frantically tried to find exits, but all were locked. The train stopped in a tunnel due to traffic, resulting riders in the adjacent car to see the horrific scene taking place. Passengers in the next car banged on the train operator’s door. The operator, David Artis, looked back and saw smoke, reporting the shooting over his radio. The train made it to its next stop, and frantic passengers flew out. Many people were reacting in different ways, from falling, helping others, running, to even filming. 

During the chaos, James made his exit. He left the train car, and disposed of his gas mask, clothing, and dropped his belongings on the platform. As victims laid on the platform, and boarded other trains, James boarded trains himself trying to escape the scene as fast and efficiently as possible. 

Items left by the gunman led a trail of clues linked to the crime scene. A cache of fireworks, a gun, a container of gasoline, a torch, bank cards and a key to a Uhaul van were all located at the scene. The gun was quickly traced back to a purchase by Frank Robert James. Breaks seemed to be coming to investigators quickly. Not only did the bank cards match the name, but surveillance shows the Uhaul belonged to James as well.

Authorities’ goal was to make sure James’s face and name was everywhere. They sent out amber alerts, and even gave people wanted posters. There was no luck finding James until he was accidentally located. A 17-year old was on a school field trip in Chinatown, when he noticed a man sitting on a bench. The teen, Jack Griffin, took a picture of the man and tweeted, “Possible Frank James sighting?” It in fact was him, but by the time police contacted Griffin, James was gone. James then called in a tip saying he was at a Mcdonald’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He told police he saw his face on the news and knew he was wanted, he then added he would be at the restaurant charging his phone. The call later dropped and James left the Mcdonald’s. A bystander flagged down James and James was then put in custody.

James was charged in federal court with violating a law that prohibits terrorist and other violent attacks against a mass transportation system, according to Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. If convicted, James may spend life in prison. Officials have still not yet released a motive for the attack, but rambled through James’s Youtube channel in which he discussed his views on violence, mass shootings, and mental health. In the videos, James mentions he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and exposes his hatred for African-Americans when he himself is black. 

James was denied bail and remains in custody, but may press again for bail later. Many people are no longer taking public transportation anymore due to this tragedy, and won’t ever look at it the same.