By Zachary Stieber
The man authorities deemed April 12 as a person of interest in a shooting that took place earlier in the day on the New York City subway is now a suspect, Mayor Eric Adams said on Wednesday.
“We have now upgraded the person of interest to being a suspect,” Adams said on WYNC, referring to Frank James.
The development was “based on new information that has come available to the team,” Adams added.
Fabian Levy, Adams’ press secretary, said James is still not in police custody.
The New York Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Police officials described James as a person of interest in a briefing on Tuesday in the shooting that left dozens wounded.
But overnight, James Essig, a top NYPD official, called on citizens to “help bring the person who shot 10 people” on the train to justice, linking to an NYPD post that pictured James.
The NYPD later deleted the post.
On Twitter on Wednesday morning, the department posted seven pictures of James, including one showing him inside the subway system. James carried out the shooting, it said.
The shooter was on the train as it pulled into the 36th Street Station, in the borough of Brooklyn, according to authorities. The man donned a gas mask and opened two canisters that filled the train with smoke before opening fire.
Police officials say they do not know where the shooter went after the attack.
James is linked to addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s believed to have rented a U-Haul van and driven into the city. The van was recovered in Brooklyn, as was the key to the vehicle.
Detectives at the crime scene recovered a 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun, magazines, a hatchet, a liquid believed to be gasoline, a bag with consumer-grade fireworks, and a hobby fuse.
Police are being assisted by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
James listed Lucent Technologies, an information technology consulting firm, as his place of employment. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the images of the suspect police have distributed is a screenshot from one of the many videos he posted on YouTube.
In the videos, James, a black male, ranted about police shootings of black people and repeatedly used racial epithets against white and Hispanic people, according to an Epoch Times review.
In a linked Facebook account, James called former President Donald Trump and his supporters racist and repeatedly posted violent images and memes, including one that said “you may not be able to beat em but you can sure as hell shoot em.”Play Video
James also criticized Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, both Democrats, taking particular aim at their recent announcement on trying to help the mentally ill in the city and state.
In one of his videos, James described having a “crisis of mental health” in the past and launched into an expletive-riddled screed against people he said he dealt with who work in the mental health system. “Mr. mayor, let me say to you, I’m a victim of your mental health program,” he said at one point.
Adams said on MSNBC on Wednesday he wasn’t sure what James was talking about.
“But it’s clear that this individual wanted to create terror and violence,” he said.
Police officials have briefed the mayor on the social media posts, which saw James express support for the Black Lives Matter movement and black nationalists like Assata Shakur, who killed a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 and later fled to Cuba.
James also launched a rant in a video titled “[expletive] BLM” where he criticized the movement and has offered his views on topical subjects such as nuclear war, the Russia–Ukraine conflict, and traffic in Chicago.
In recent videos, James discussed leaving Wisconsin for Philadelphia. “As I leave the state of Wisconsin, about to be back in the state of Illinois, all I can say is good riddance and I will never be back again alive,” the man said.