Before he allegedly opened fire on a Brooklyn subway train car full of innocent commuters starting their day on Tuesday, Frank Robert James discussed violence extensively, expressed bigoted views and criticized New York City’s mayor in numerous video clips he posted online.
The NYPD on Wednesday identified James, 62, as a suspect in Tuesday’s mass shooting on a Manhattan-bound N train that saw 10 people shot and 13 others injured. James was arrested in the East Village in New York on Wednesday, officials said. Patrol officers from the 9th Precinct made the arrest, police said.
A $50,000 reward was initially offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of James, who police said had known ties to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio.
James spoke openly and often about violence in videos he appeared to have posted on the YouTube channel, “prophet of truth 88,” which by early Wednesday had been terminated by the social media platform. A photo of James shared by police was a screenshot of a video from that same YouTube channel, NBC News reported.
James posted his views online for years, oftentimes evoking violence and making profane, racist and misogynistic comments.
In a video posted Monday, James spoke of having wanted to kill people but said he didn’t want to go to jail. On April 6, he said in a video there needed to be more mass shootings. The shooter would not be the problem, he said, noting that it was the environment in which they exist that is the issue.
He spoke of a “race war,” the desire to “exterminate” certain groups of people and claimed to have suffered from mental illness. He also criticized New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ outreach efforts to the homeless, specifically on the subways.
“Eric Adams, Eric Adams: What are you doing, brother?” James said in one video. “What’s happening with this homeless situation,” he said while referring to the subway. “Every car I went to was loaded with homeless people. It was so bad, I couldn’t even stand. I had to keep moving from car to car.
“Mr. Mayor, I’m a victim of your mental health program,” James said. “I’m 63 now full of hate, full of anger, and full of bitterness.”
He criticized the care he claimed he received at a facility as well, saying in a video, “What’s going on in that place is violence. Not physical violence, but the kind of violence a child experiences in grade school … that would make him go get a gun and shooting motherf******.”
Adams is aware of James’s posts online, saying on “TODAY” on Wednesday, “I was briefed by the police department on some of his social media posts. He appears to be all over the place according to the briefing.”
James spoke about Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the war in Ukraine, comparing the crisis there to a race war he said would play out.
“It’s just a matter of time before these white motherf****** decide, ‘Hey listen. Enough is enough. These n****** got to go,’” he said.
“And what’re you going to do? You gonna fight. And guess what? You gonna die. ‘Cause unlike President (Zelenskyy) over in Ukraine, nobody has your back. The whole world is against you. And you’re against your f****** self. So why should you be alive again is the f****** question. Why should a n***** be alive on this planet? Besides to pick cotton or chop sugar cane or tobacco.”
James’s Facebook appeared to be an ideological extension of his YouTube channel.
There, he posted images of guns, body bags and memes with violent captions.
“I like you! I think I will kill you last!” read one meme he reposted on March 22.
On March 7, he reposted his own post from 2017 that read, “Please don’t make me prove it,” along with a meme that read,
“They say the pen is mightier than the sword. I say the bullet is mightier than both them.”
That same day, he reposted another post he wrote years prior. “Only death could stop me,” he wrote in 2019, sharing an image of what appeared to be a body bag with the caption, “It’s never to late to say I love you.”
But in another instance he shared a post that would seemingly contradict his more prevalent apparent viewpoints.
“NYPD under attack dam(sic) shame,” he wrote, sharing images of officers Jason Rivera and Wilber Mora, who were killed in January while responding to a domestic violence call in Harlem.
The day before, he wrote “If I can’t live, why should you?”
James’s whereabouts since Tuesday remained a mystery until he was arrested on Wednesday.
Before he was declared a wanted man, it is alleged that James boarded a Manhattan-bound N train in Brooklyn on Tuesday, police said.
Wearing a construction vest and a gray hooded sweatshirt, police claim that James put on a gas mask, detonated smoke bombs and began firing as the train made its way to the 36th Street and Fourth Avenue train station in Sunset Park at about 8:30 a.m., police said.
James fled once the train entered the station, leaving behind a grisly scene of chaos, officials said. Coughing and staggering, those inside the car stumbled onto the station platform, as others ran in a panic, according to social media videos posted by witnesses.
“I saw fear in some of the people’s faces. Someone was crawling cause they had fallen over. People are screaming, running towards me,” Sam Carcamo told .
The injuries ranged from gunshot wounds to smoke inhalation and panic caused by the shootings, said Laura Kavanagh, the city’s acting fire commissioner. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, but 10 people were seriously injured, officials said.
By late afternoon, police were looking for a U-Haul bearing Arizona license plate AL31408, which investigators said they learned James rented out of Philadelphia. The keys to the van and the credit card used to rent it were found at the scene of the crime, the New York Post reported. Also found at the scene of the crime were a handgun, which had apparently jammed, high-capacity magazines, hatchet, fireworks and gasoline, officials said.
At about 5:20 p.m., New York police found the white U-Haul parked in Gravesend, a Brooklyn neighborhood about four miles south of Sunset Park. The area around the unoccupied vehicle was evacuated while officers awaited a bomb squad and the specialized emergency services unit.
Items found inside the van led investigators to believe James may have been living inside it, the Post reported.
“This individual is still on the loose. This individual is dangerous,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Tuesday, describing it as an “active shooter situation.”
Around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the MetroCard James was believed to have purchased with a credit card was used to swipe into a Brooklyn subway station, NBC reported, citing law enforcement sources. “It’s believed he may have still been riding the train yesterday,” WNBC reporter Myles Miller tweeted.