Brooklyn subway shooting live updates: Police hunt for the man accused of shooting 10 people in the subway

Published April 13, 2022 at 8:32 AM EDT
A police officers looks to his right as he leans into a subway car.
John Minchillo
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AP
An NYPD officer patrols the platform at the 36th Street Subway Station, where a man shot 10 people Tuesday during the morning commute.

The department identified a suspect through a cache of weapons at the scene, including guns, ammunition, a hatchet and gasoline — and keys to a U-Haul van.

Here's what we're following today:

Person of interest now considered a suspect: The NYPD has released photos of Frank R. James, 62, the man police say unleashed the attack inside a Brooklyn subway car Tuesday morning.

The shooting rattles Sunset Park: The Brooklyn neighborhood where the shooting took place is home to working-class immigrants.

A message of solidarity: New York officials shared selfies from their morning commute on the city's Twitter account.

Interview

MTA official says the subway attack came at a bad time, but New Yorkers are resilient

Posted April 13, 2022 at 11:34 AM EDT
People emerge from a subway station as reporters and photographers line the sunny sidewalk.
Michael M. Santiago
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Getty Images
People exit the 36th Street subway station in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday.

What does an official with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — which runs New York's mass transit — make of yesterday's subway station attack?

Just hours after it happened, All Things Considered spoke with John Samuelsen, a member of the MTA board and the international president of the Transport Workers Union, who also happens to be a lifelong Brooklyn resident.

He lives in southern Brooklyn, and his two sons take the subway every day. He told NPR's Ailsa Chang that he personally feels safe continuing to ride the subway, and offered up the No. 1 piece of advice he gives his kids: Always stand near a conductor.

"Always ride the conductor car," he said. "And the conductors proved heroic today in the evacuation of the system. It wouldn't have happened without the train crews."

Still, he acknowledged that the incident will likely have a negative impact on subway ridership — which still hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels.

"Of course, just as we were getting back on our legs, just as riders were coming back into the system — this was the worst possible time for it to happen," he said, describing the attack as an anomaly. "And New York City has dealt with these type of things in the past, and I believe we'll work our way through it, and folks will continue to get back on the subway. That's my hope."

The attack also came on the heels of a rise in transit crime in New York City. Samuelson said that the city, not the MTA, is responsible for policing the system (though he notes that as a union representative, he doesn't typically find himself in the position of defending the MTA).

He said that while policing of the system "deteriorated terribly" over the last several years, new Mayor Eric Adams has made a commitment to increase the presence of uniformed officers.

The impact of that shift may not be tangible yet, Samuelsen added, but he believes it will have a noticeable effect soon.

"A uniformed police presence in the subway — and I'm not talking about at the fare box, I'm not talking about the police watching out for 17-year-old kids engaging in mischief — I'm talking about cops actually riding the trains where our workers are and where New York City transit riders are," he said. "And there's a commitment to make that happen."

Listen to the full conversation here.

Messaging

New York City officials are sharing selfies from their subway commute

Posted April 13, 2022 at 10:40 AM EDT

One day after a man set off smoke grenades and opened fire in a Brooklyn subway car, New Yorkers returned to the trains for their morning commutes.

Among them were roughly a dozen city officials, who shared selfies from the subway through the government's official Twitter account.

"@NYCTSubway is up and running this morning and so is your city," it wrote. "We’re standing strong thanks to the resilience of New Yorkers."

The multi-tweet thread features photos of 11 people, all wearing face masks, standing either inside subway cars or waiting in stations. They are:

  • Maria Torres-Springer, deputy mayor for economic & workforce development
  • Meera Joshi, deputy mayor for operations
  • Gary Jenkins, commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services
  • Ydanis Rodríguez, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation
  • Rohit Aggarwala, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • Tom Foley, commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction
  • Jess Dannhauser, commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children's Services
  • Menashe Shapiro, deputy chief of staff to New York City Mayor Eric Adams
  • Annabel Palma, commissioner and chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights
  • Manuel Castro, commissioner of the New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Jessica Katz, chief housing officer

Member Station Reports
From WNYC/Gothamist

A history of (rare) mass violence in the NYC subway system

Posted April 13, 2022 at 10:22 AM EDT

As Gothamist’s Sophia Chang, Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky and Jen Chung report:

Tuesday's shooting at a Brooklyn subway station is among very few incidents of mass violence in the NYC subway's 117-year history. Although law enforcement officials for years have warned straphangers to be aware of their surroundings — particularly in the months after 9/11 and after a failed pipe bomb attack in a city subway tunnel in 2017 — actual incidents have been extremely rare.

Keep reading atGothamist.com

nypd update

NYPD now says Frank R. James, previously a ‘person of interest,’ fired the shots

Updated April 13, 2022 at 11:15 AM EDT
Posted April 13, 2022 at 10:15 AM EDT

The NYPD has released additional photos of Frank R. James, the man police say unleashed the attack inside a New York City subway car Tuesday morning.

“Frank Robert James fired numerous gun shots inside an ‘N’ line subway car at 36th St & 4th Ave subway station causing serious injuries to 10 people,” the NYPD said in a tweet Wednesday morning.

Authorities previously called James a person of interest in the case, but Mayor Eric Adams told WNYC on Wednesday morning that James had been upgraded to a suspect based on new information. Adams didn’t specify what that information was.

Beyond calling him a suspect, police now say it was James who fired the shots. Investigators found 33 shell casings at the scene of the shooting.

NYPD Chief James Essig said Tuesday that police also found the key to a U-Haul van at the scene and believe James rented the van in Philadelphia.

New Yorkers were blasted with a high-pitched emergency alert Wednesday morning — more than 24 hours after the attack — as the manhunt for James ensued, with authorities urging residents to send any relevant information to the NYPD at 800-577-TIPS.

Member Station Reports
From WNYC/Gothamist

Commuters return to Sunset Park station a day after mass shooting

Posted April 13, 2022 at 9:50 AM EDT
NYPD officers guard the entrance to the 36th Street subway station Wednesday where the shooting attack took place a day earlier.
John Minchillo
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AP
NYPD officers guard the entrance to the 36th Street Subway Station on Wednesday where the shooting attack took place a day earlier.

As Gothamist’s Stephen Nessen reports:

Trains and commuters returned to the 36th Street Subway Station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park early Wednesday, a day after a shooting on a Manhattan-bound train injured at least 23 people.

Keep reading atGothamist.com

The neighborhood

Sunset Park subway attack rattles a multicultural, working-class community

Posted April 13, 2022 at 9:32 AM EDT
Police and caution tape stand on a street corner outside of the 952 Food Corp. Deli.
Timothy A. Clary
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AFP via Getty Images
Members of the New York Police Department and emergency vehicles crowd the streets near a subway station in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Tuesday.

As the subway attack in Brooklyn's Sunset Park dominates national news, elected officials, activists and residents are speaking up about the struggles and strengths of a diverse community suddenly in the spotlight.

Specifically, they note that it is home to a large immigrant and working-class population, members of which depend heavily on the subway system to get around.

Sunset Park — which is home to Brooklyn's Chinatown — is 27% Chinese and 39% Hispanic, according to the Asian American Federation, which calls the neighborhood "a wonderful microcosm of what makes NYC great." But it also notes that some 24% of Asian Americans in Sunset Park live in poverty.

"Today's tragedy has once again shaken our immigrant, working-class and vulnerable communities," the nonprofit wrote on Twitter.

Area residents turned to social media to dispel stereotypes about the neighborhood. Dominique Jean-Louis, a public historian, described it not as "yuppies with $7 lattes Brooklyn" but rather "soccer and paletas and 'ICE couldn’t detain anyone because their neighbors chased them out the building' Brooklyn."

Her tweet racked up more than 31,000 likes and set off a chain of replies, with other commenters expressing agreement and adding their favorite things about the neighborhood, from its namesake park and public pool to its social justice and climate activism.

"Sunset Park is a transformational, leader-full, working class community dealing with challenges of displacement, ice raids, health disparities, but responds with collective care & love every time there is a [crisis]," wrote UPROSE, a grassroots social services organization based in Brooklyn.

Local voices are drawing attention to the fear and disruption that Tuesday's incident has caused, especially in a city and community where the subway is the most affordable means of transportation.

New York State Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes, whose district includes Sunset Park, described the station as "a hub for our local working-class immigrant communities."

Qian Julie Wang, a writer and civil rights lawyer, noted on Twitter that just one hour of subway closure can be costly — and that Sunset Park residents, like all New Yorkers, deserve to feel safe.

"The subway is the artery of the city," she wrote. "Each attack drains the lifeblood of our home."

Sunset Park, like many New York City neighborhoods, has dealt with its share of challenges in recent years, as its local elected officials pointed out.

In a joint statement, Mitaynes and New York City Council Member Alexa Avilés said that the community is still "coming out of the collective trauma of this pandemic" and that Tuesday's incident has added to this pain.

Citing reports that police on the scene needed help from commuters with calling 911, the officials said that a larger police presence on trains or in the neighborhood could not have prevented the attack and that what the district needs is reassurance that "our pain will not be used as a scapegoat for policies that won't keep us safer."

They also called for investments in social services like housing, health care and education, and an end to the manufacturing and flow of guns in the U.S. And they added:

"We are asking our partners in City, State and Federal government for a multi-faceted, effective and evidence-based public safety response, including abundant mental health resources for victims in the near-term, in addition to dramatic investments in violence prevention and interruption programs, full employment, and guaranteed housing moving forward — before more people get hurt."

expert analysis

An expert watches to see if yesterday's shooting matches national mass shooting trends

Posted April 13, 2022 at 9:15 AM EDT
Pedestrians pass the 36th Street subway station where a shooting attack took place on Tuesday.
John Minchillo
/
AP
Pedestrians pass the 36th Street subway station where a shooting attack took place on Tuesday.

Tuesday's shooting in a Brooklyn subway station could be more representative of America's epidemic of mass shootings than of crime trends in New York City, says an expert.

"I don't really see this as a New York City issue; I really see this as a national issue," says Thomas Abt, senior fellow for the Council on Criminal Justice. Abt joined Morning Edition and spoke to NPR's Leila Fadel about what the shooting in NYC says about violence across the country.

Abt says it is possible this crime fits a pattern of mass shootings, meaning it could happen in many places across the country.

Listen here.

As the search continues for the alleged shooter, police and city leaders may up the number of police forces in the subway system to deter copy-cat attacks, but those increased numbers should be temporary, says Abt. New York Mayor Eric Adams doubled the number of police patrolling the subway system yesterday following the attack.

If the shooting does turn out to meet mass-shooting narratives, the country would need better threat assessment, red-flag laws and reasonable gun restrictions, says Abt.

Communities nationally are seeing an increase in violence and researchers are examining what factors may be behind the rise.

nypd update

A manhunt is underway to find the shooting suspect

Posted April 13, 2022 at 9:00 AM EDT
New York City Police Chief of Detectives James W. Essig briefs members of the media as Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell looks on April 12, 2022 in New York City.
Alexi J. Rosenfeld
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Getty Images
New York City Police Chief of Detectives James Essig briefs the media on Tuesday.

Police are searching for Frank R. James, a suspect in Tuesday’s shooting on the New York City subway.

“We are endeavoring to locate him to determine his connection to the subway shooting, if any,” NYPD Chief James Essig said at a press conference Tuesday night.

On Tuesday police referred to James as a person of interest, but WNYC reported that Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday morning that James had been upgraded to a suspect.

NYPD detectives, the FBI and NYPD joint terrorism task force and the ATF are working together on the investigation.

Law enforcement is asking for the public’s help to provide any information that might assist in the investigation, including cell phone video or witness statements.

People can report any information to the police by calling 1-800-577-TIPS. There is a $50,000 reward.

“I just want to assure everyone that we in the NYPD have all our resources working this, along with our partners in the FBI and the ATF, to find this perpetrator,” Essig said Tuesday.

Safety

How to stay safe on the New York subway, according to city leadership

Posted April 13, 2022 at 8:36 AM EDT
People wearing masks sit on a subway beneath a poster advertising free COVID-19 vaccines in New York City.
Daniel Slim
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AFP via Getty Images
New York City departments have previously issued guidance on how to improve safety throughout the city's transit system.

Students at schools had to shelter in place, New Yorkers were advised to avoid the area, and power on some rail lines was temporarily shut down after a person opened fire and shot 10 people inside of a subway car in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

WNYC broadcast engineer Juliana Fonda said she was on the N train when she heard the shots.

"People were pounding and looking behind them, running, trying to get onto the train," Fonda said. "The door locked between cars and the people behind us, there were a lot of loud pops and there was smoke in the other car."

The event has revived conversations about public safety in New York. City departments have previously issued guidance on how to improve safety throughout the city's transit system.

NYPD's tips on subway safety

  • Wait behind the yellow line on the platform, away from the edge.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings, especially electronics.
  • Keep purses in front of you, even if using a shoulder strap.
  • Keep your wallet tucked away, in a place besides your back pocket.
  • Avoid falling asleep on the subway.

Click here to read more about the mayor's subway safety plan — which largely focuses on moving unhoused people.

Recap

Police share details about the person of interest and chaos at the scene

Posted April 13, 2022 at 8:32 AM EDT
First responders carry stretchers with equipment through a crowded city street.
Angela Weiss
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AFP via Getty Images
Emergency personel crowd the streets near a subway station in New York City on Tuesday.

The New York Police Department has identified a person of interest in yesterday's Brooklyn subway shooting that injured 29 people and rattled many more.

Chief James Essig told reporters that officers recovered a cache of weapons at the scene — including guns, ammunition, a hatchet and gasoline — and keys to a U-Haul van, which investigators have linked to a 62-year-old man named Frank R. James. He has addresses in both Wisconsin and Philadelphia and appears to have rented the van in Philadelphia.

Caroline Lewis of member station WNYC toldMorning Edition that police were careful not to call him a suspect, but definitely want to talk to him. They are still searching for a motive.

Police have also been able to piece together more details about the shooting, which took place during rush hour as the train was pulling into the station in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood. Apparently, a man wearing a neon construction vest, hat and gas mask opened up two smoke grenades, then pulled out a gun and started shooting — firing 33 shots in all.

Video footage shows smoke pouring out of the train as the doors opened, with people screaming and rushing onto the platform.

Hospitals have treated at least 29 people for injuries — officials said that 10 were wounded by gunfire, and others injured by smoke inhalation or in the rush to get out of the station. Five of the victims are listed as in critical but stable condition, and Lewis says all are expected to recover.

The attack has rattled many residents and commuters. Lewis notes that there's been an increase in subway crime in the city recently and that some people were already on edge.

She spoke with people who live near the station and reportedly had near misses with yesterday's incident. Some told her they're nervous about taking the train now, but don't have a choice because it's the most affordable option.

So what happens next? Mayor Eric Adams has been talking about ramping up police presence in the subways. But, as Lewis notes, police are already pretty ubiquitous — so people are divided over whether that would actually help.

Read more here.