New York City police named a person of interest in Tuesday’s rush hour shooting on a subway train in the city’s Brooklyn borough that left nearly two dozen people injured, but no one has been taken into custody yet.
Police said they want to speak to Frank R. James, 62, who has addresses in the state of Wisconsin and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They believe he rented a van found 8 kilometers from the train station that is being investigated for links to the shooting.
New York Police Chief of Detectives Jim Essig told reporters late Tuesday that the key for the van was found at the Brooklyn subway station where the shooting occurred.
“We are endeavoring to locate him to determine his connection to the subway shooting, if any,” Essig said of James. “The two crime scenes – the subway and the van – are very active and are still being processed.”
Essig said James rented the van in Philadelphia.
A reward of $50,000 is being offered for information.
The attack in the 36th Street Station in the ethnically diverse working-class Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn left 23 people injured, 10 of them from gunshot wounds. Police said five are in critical but stable condition. The others suffered smoke inhalation and falls in the commotion.
Police said the suspect, a heavy-set, dark-skinned male wearing a green nylon vest like construction workers wear, was in the second car of the train.
“As the train approached 36th Street (station), witnesses state the male opened up two smoke grenades, tossed them on the subway floor, brandishes a Glock 9 mm handgun. He then fired that weapon at least 33 times, striking 10 people,” Chief Essig said. “The male then fled the scene, and detectives are actively trying to determine his whereabouts.”
Photos and videos posted to social media show bloodied victims spilling onto the platform and smoke lingering in the air.
“My subway door opened into calamity. It was smoke and blood and people screaming,” eyewitness Sam Carcamo told local radio station 1010 WINS.
Police also recovered other items at the scene linked to the shooter, including the Glock 17 9 mm handgun, ammunition for it, discharged shell casings, bullets, two detonated smoke grenades and two that were not detonated, as well as a hatchet, a trash can, a rolling cart, gasoline and the key for the van.
While the gunman’s motive is not yet known, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the incident is not being investigated as an act of terrorism at this time. She also said the mayor’s security detail would be tightened out of an abundance of caution because of some social media posts by James.
Police have been hampered in their investigation because security cameras were not working in the station where the shooting took place nor at two other stations along the route.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who is in isolation with COVID-19, told reporters by video link that gun violence must end.
“I will continue to do everything in my power to dam the rivers that feed the sea of violence,” Adams said. “But this is not only a New York City problem. This rage, this violence, these guns, these relentless shooters are an American problem. It’s going to take all levels of government to solve it.”
The attack comes against a backdrop of rising violent crime in New York City, including the recent killings of a 16-year-old girl and a grandmother, as well as crime on the subway.
The mayor, a former police officer who took office in January, has said reducing crime is a top priority of his administration.