Brooklyn subway shooting suspect arrested

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Maureen Chowdhury and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 6:27 p.m. ET, April 13, 2022
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12:33 p.m. ET, April 13, 2022

Investigators link gun found at Brooklyn subway shooting scene to suspect, law enforcement officials say

From CNN's Mark Morales, Brynn Gingras, Pervaiz Shallwani and Shimon Prokupecz

Investigators have linked the gun found at the scene of the subway shooting to suspect Frank James, according to law enforcement officials.

Three law enforcement officials told CNN that investigators have determined the gun recovered from the scene of the subway shooting was purchased by James. 

Two of those officials said linking the gun to James was part of the impetus in elevating James from a “person of interest” to a suspect in connection with the shooting. 

Investigators are learning more about the purchases that James made as they pour over evidence, including search warrants, sources said.

Authorities have tracked the purchase of a gas mask to James through an eBay account, according to one of the aforementioned law enforcement officials and a separate law enforcement official. 

When reached for comment, an eBay spokesperson said that “while we cannot comment on individual users' activities, when contacted by law enforcement agencies, we fully cooperate and work closely with them to assist with their investigations.”

The New York City Police Department, in coordination with federal authorities, have continued to talk to victims and witnesses of the subway shooting, have interviewed known family members of James, and have conducted search warrants as part of its investigative efforts in finding him, one of the officials told CNN.

Investigators also continue to comb through James’ social media footprint, the source said.

CNN's Richard Davis contributed to this report.

11:23 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

No weapons or explosives found in recovered U-Haul van, law enforcement officials say 

From CNN's Mark Morales and Brynn Gingras

Emergency personnel search a U-Haul van following the shooting on Tuesday, April 12, in New York.
Emergency personnel search a U-Haul van following the shooting on Tuesday, April 12, in New York. (John Minchillo/AP)

Investigators did not find any other weapons or explosives in the U-Haul van discovered in connection with the Brooklyn subway shooting, law enforcement officials said.

One official said no weapons or explosives were found, and a second source also said no explosives were found.

The van, which investigators say was rented by suspect Frank James, did have remnants of food in it, one source said.

Both sources said it appeared he may have slept in the vehicle.  

Both law enforcement sources also say a license plate reader detected the van driving over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn, from Staten Island, around 4 a.m. ET Tuesday.

10:56 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

Brooklyn shooting suspect posted about NYC mental health programs

From CNN's David Shortell

Frank James, the Brooklyn subway shooting suspect, criticized a plan by the administration of New York City Mayor Eric Adams to address safety and homelessness in the subway in part through an expanded presence of mental health professionals in a video posted online in February. 

In another racist and rambling recording, James called the new effort "doomed to fail" and described his own negative experience with city health workers during a "crisis of mental health back in the 90s, 80s and 70s."

More: Other videos that James has uploaded included references to violence, including at a set group of people he believed had maligned him, in addition to broad societal and racial groups that he appeared to hate.

In another video posted last week, James, who is Black, rants about abuse in churches and racism in the workplace, using misogynistic and racist language.

In another video posted last month to the same channel, James said that he had post-traumatic stress. In that video, James said he left his home in Milwaukee on March 20. During the trip eastward, he said he was heading to the "danger zone."

10:54 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

US Marshals join manhunt for Brooklyn subway shooting suspect

From CNN's Whitney Wild

The US Marshals Service has joined the manhunt for Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James, a spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.

“USMS has joined the investigation in the NYC subway shooting and is looking for the person of interest. About 50 NYPD detectives work on the USMS NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force and will assist deputy US Marshals in the search for the person of interest," US Marshals Service spokesperson Drew Wade said in a statement.

New York officials are now referring to Frank James, formerly a person of interest, as the suspect in the shooting. Authorities said the suspect, who remains at large, put on a gas mask, deployed a gas canister and then began shooting, firing at least 33 times.

10:32 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

Witnesses recount frantic scene as suspect began shooting in smoke-filled train car

From CNN's Elizabeth Wolfe, Kristina Sgueglia, Paul Murphy and Amir Vera

Images captured by people at the scene of the Brooklyn subway shooting and witness accounts piece together a picture of the panic and chaos that ensued when shots began to ring out in the smoke-filled train car.

People backed away from the door and a man banged on the door trying to move into the subway car, video taken by the passenger showed. In another video, people can be seen rushing off the subway train after it pulled into the 36th Street subway station.

Smoke pours out of the car where the shooting took place, and people can be heard screaming, that video shows. Someone helps an injured and bleeding person off the train, and another man is seen hobbling off the train shortly afterward.

Images taken by others at the scene show the subway platform streaked with blood and people sitting and lying on the train platform following the attack.

Hourari Benkada, 27, was sitting next to the subway shooting suspect on the "N" train and was shot in the back of his knee while trying to flee, he told CNN.

"I feel shocked, I feel shaky, I don't know if I can ever ride a train," Benkada, a lifelong New Yorker, said after coming out of surgery.

Benkada, a housekeeping manager at the New Yorker Hotel, got on the last car of the N train and sat next to a man with a duffel bag who was wearing an Metropolitan Transportation Authority vest, he said. The gunman then let off a "smoke bomb" and started shooting about 20 seconds after the train took off, Benkada said.

Benkada was focused on helping a pregnant woman, whom he feared would get hurt as people rushed to the front of the car, when he got shot, describing it as "the worst pain of my entire life."

The bullet hit him in the back of his knee and came out the other side, he said. Doctors told him the bullet grazed his kneecap. He is expected to walk on his own after several weeks on crutches.

Benkada heard other people in pain but couldn't see them or the suspect because of the smoke, he said.

Claire Tunkel, 46, took off her jacket and tied it around the leg of a man who suffered a gunshot wound, she told CNN. Tunkel, who went to the hospital for smoke inhalation, said several victims were lying on the floor of the subway platform after the train arrived at the station.

"One of the guys who was shot, his leg was bleeding pretty bad, so I took off my jacket and tied it around his leg," she said.

Tunkel was in the subway car where the shooting took place and described the scene as chaotic. While she couldn't see anything because of the smoke, she said she heard people crying out for help and others who said they were bleeding.

"You couldn't see anything, but you could feel it," she said. People were rushing to the front of the car, and some fell to the ground, she noted. "You could feel the bodies."

11:44 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

NYPD has video related to Brooklyn subway shooting, MTA CEO says

From CNN's Mirna Alsharif

Members of the New York City Police Department patrol the streets after the incident on April 12.
Members of the New York City Police Department patrol the streets after the incident on April 12. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

The New York City Police Department has access to "an enormous range of video" from transit system cameras related to Tuesday's subway shooting in Brooklyn, according to Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Janno Lieber.

Authorities are now naming Frank James as a suspect in connection with the shooting.

"The cops have been looking overnight at all of the stations, where he got on, where he might have got off," Lieber said on CBS Wednesday morning. "There's an enormous range of video."

When asked why it appears that the cameras on the train where the shooting happened weren't working, he said it may have been a server issue.

"I think that in the one location by the turnstile, there was apparently a server problem, which they had been working on the day before," he said. "But the bigger issue is, there's so much video evidence from all of the stations on this line that there are images of this fellow that are going to be found." 

Enforcing the rules of conduct of the transit system and putting officers on platforms and trains will help target transit crime, Lieber said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.

"One, we need to put cops on platforms and on trains, which is where people feel vulnerable," said Lieber. "The other thing is to just enforce the basic rules of conduct."

When asked about if the MTA could do anything about potentially targeting situations in which someone is carrying many items in a backpack as the suspect did on Tuesday, Lieber said the authority wouldn't want to create an environment that's impractical.

"The bottom line is on that platform, in addition to that backpack and all those materials he left behind, I saw kids' schoolwork, backpacks filled with kids' schoolwork," said Lieber. "So what we're not going to do is create an environment where people can't go about their business and create something that's impractical."

9:56 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

Authorities are now naming Frank James as a suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

Frank James is seen in these photos shared by the NYPD.
Frank James is seen in these photos shared by the NYPD. (NYPD)

New York officials are now referring to Frank James as a suspect in connection with the Brooklyn subway shooting.

NYPD spokesperson Lt. Thomas Antonetti told CNN the investigation has now allowed for him to be referred to as a suspect. 

Police believe he is responsible for the shooting, Antonetti said.

Investigators previously named James a "person of interest," who they believe rented a U-Haul van that has been connected to the shooting at the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn's Sunset Park.

James, 62, has addresses in Wisconsin as well as Philadelphia, where the U-Haul was rented, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said.

The U-Haul was recovered near the station and has been cleared by the NYPD's bomb squad, police said. The van will be transported to a forensic location where federal and local authorities can go through the vehicle in a controlled environment, a senior law enforcement official told CNN.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams told CNN this morning that "we're going to catch this person. We're going to bring him to justice and hold him responsible for this horrific act on innocent people."

Overall, 29 people were hospitalized in connection with the shooting with injuries that included gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation or from falling while trying to escape, officials said.

The NYPD is asking that the public help authorities find James:

9:06 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

NYC mayor says authorities will catch Brooklyn subway shooting suspect and warns New Yorkers to be vigilant

New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks with CNN on April 13.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks with CNN on April 13. (CNN)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he is confident that the person responsible for the Brooklyn subway shooting will be caught and prosecuted.

"We're going to catch this person. We're going to bring him to justice and hold him responsible for this horrific act on innocent people that are utilizing our subway system," Adams said.  

Investigators have named a "person of interest" they believe rented a U-Haul van that has been connected to the shooting at the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn's Sunset Park.

Frank James, 62, has not been named as a suspect. James has addresses in Wisconsin as well as Philadelphia, where the U-Haul was rented, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said Tuesday.

"We're sensitive about what we release right now. We have a person of interest named, his face, where he resides, some of his actions, some of the weapons that he carried, but we are methodically releasing only the information that would never endanger the outcome of this case," Adams told CNN.

James has been linked to multiple rambling videos posted on a YouTube channel. Preliminary information indicated James mentioned homelessness, New York City, and Adams in online posts, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Tuesday, adding that as a result the city would increase the mayor's security.

CNN's John Berman asked the mayor: "Were there things posted by this person of interest that to you should have set off red flags?"

"I believe so. That will come out during the investigation," the mayor answered via a video interview. Adams tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week.

He said social media companies should be more proactive about threatening postings.

The mayor warned New Yorkers to be vigilant as authorities continue their investigation.

"Any time you have an armed person who has intent to hurt innocent people, that is a threat. And that is why we are going to catch him, we're going to arrest him, if he's a person of interest now, and we're going to prosecute whoever's responsible for this crime. Yes, it is a threat. And we're telling New Yorkers we want you to be vigilant. If you see him, notify your authorities. But be extremely vigilant as you move around your day to day. We want this person apprehended," he said.

Adams also discussed implementing new technology that can detect guns in the subway system.

"We want to enhance our level of security, and that's why I'm talking about examining some of the technology out there," he said.

8:24 a.m. ET, April 13, 2022

Frank James, the person of interest in the subway shooting, posted YouTube videos discussing mass shootings

From CNN's David Shortell, Paul Murphy, Juan Alejandro Olarte-Cortes, Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand

Frank James is seen in these photos shared by the NYPD.
Frank James is seen in these photos shared by the NYPD. (NYPD)

Frank James, the man named by the New York City Police Department as a person of interest in the Brooklyn subway shooting, talked about violence and mass shootings in multiple rambling videos posted on YouTube, including one uploaded Monday in which he said he's thought about killing people who have presumably hurt him.

The NYPD named James a person of interest Tuesday because they believe he rented the U-Haul van, whose keys were found at the scene. Police are currently investigating whether he has any connection to the shooting, and have not named him as a suspect.

CNN has linked the YouTube videos to James because a screenshot from one of them is being used on a NYPD Crimestoppers flyer. Also, in one of the videos, he posts a city of New York ID card from a past educational training program.

In what appears to be his latest video, posted Monday, James talks about someone who engaged in violence and ended up in jail.

"I’ve been through a lot of s**t, where I can say I wanted to kill people. I wanted to watch people die right in front of my f**king face immediately. But I thought about the fact that, hey man, I don't want to go to no f**king prison." 

Many of the videos that James uploaded included references to violence, including at a set group of people he believed had maligned him, in addition to broad societal and racial groups that he appeared to hate.

In another video posted last week, James, who is Black, rants about abuse in churches and racism in the workplace, using misogynistic and racist language. James repeatedly espoused hatred toward African Americans.

In another video posted last month to the same channel, James said that he had post-traumatic stress.

In that video, James said he left his home in Milwaukee on March 20. During the trip eastward, he said he was heading to the “danger zone.”

"You know, it's triggering a lot of negative thoughts of course," he said in the video. "I do have a severe case of post-traumatic stress."

More on the investigation: Preliminary information indicated James mentioned homelessness, New York City, and the city's new mayor, Eric Adams, in online posts, the NYPD commissioner said Tuesday, adding that as a result the city would increase the mayor's security.

Police released two photos of James in a news conference Tuesday night, including one that appeared to be a screengrab from a YouTube video he had posted.

The NYPD said keys belonging to a U-Haul that had been rented under his name in Philadelphia were found among the shooter's possessions at the shooting scene in Brooklyn.

Police were careful to refer to James only as a "person of interest" because of the link to the U-Haul rental, noting that they were not accusing him at this point of being the shooter.

The videos give insight into James’ path to the northeast. He arrived in Philadelphia March 25 after stops in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Pittsburgh; and Newark, New Jersey.

CNN has reached out to James — and his family — for comment, but has not received a response.