NEW YORK (AP) — Frank James posted dozens of movies ranting about race, violence and his struggles with psychological sickness. One stands out for its relative calm: A silent shot of a packed New York Metropolis subway automotive during which he raises his finger to level out passengers, one after the other.
Whilst police arrested James on Wednesday within the Brooklyn subway taking pictures that wounded 10 individuals, they had been nonetheless trying to find a motive from a flood of particulars concerning the 62-year-old Black man’s life.
An erratic work historical past. Arrests for a string of principally low-level crimes. A storage locker with extra ammo. And hours of rambling, bigoted, profanity-laced movies on his YouTube channel that time to a deep, simmering anger.
“This nation was born in violence, it’s stored alive by violence or the risk thereof, and it’s going to die a violent loss of life,” says James in a video the place he takes on the moniker “Prophet of Doom.”
After a 30-hour manhunt, James was arrested with out incident after a tipster — thought by police to be James himself — mentioned he might be discovered close to a McDonald’s on Manhattan’s Decrease East Facet. Mayor Eric Adams triumphantly proclaimed “We acquired him!”
Police mentioned their prime precedence was getting the suspect, now charged with a federal terrorism offense, off the streets as they examine their largest unanswered query: Why?
A primary trove of proof, they mentioned, is his YouTube movies. He appears to have opinions about practically the whole lot — racism in America, New York Metropolis’s new mayor, the state of psychological well being companies, 9/11, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Black girls.
A federal prison criticism cited one during which James ranted about too many homeless individuals on the subway and put the blame on New York Metropolis’s mayor.
“What are you doing, brother?” he mentioned within the video posted March 27. “Each automotive I went to was loaded with homeless individuals. It was so unhealthy, I couldn’t even stand.”
James then railed concerning the therapy of Black individuals in an April 6 video cited within the criticism, saying, “And so the message to me is: I ought to have gotten a gun, and simply began taking pictures.”
In a video posted a day earlier than the assault, James criticizes crime in opposition to Black individuals and says issues would solely change if sure individuals had been “stomped, kicked and tortured” out of their “consolation zone.”
Surveillance cameras noticed James getting into the subway system turnstiles Tuesday morning, dressed as a upkeep or building employee in a yellow exhausting hat and orange working jacket with reflective tape.
Police say fellow riders heard him say solely “oops” as he set off one smoke grenade in a crowded subway automotive because it rolled right into a station. He then set off a second smoke grenade and began firing, police mentioned. Within the smoke and chaos that ensued, police say James made his getaway by slipping right into a practice that pulled in throughout the platform and exited after the primary cease.
Left behind on the scene was the gun, prolonged magazines, a hatchet, detonated and undetonated smoke grenades, a black rubbish can, a rolling cart, gasoline and the important thing to a U-Haul van, police mentioned.
That key led investigators to James, and clues to a lifetime of setbacks and anger as he bounced amongst manufacturing facility and upkeep jobs, acquired fired at the least twice, moved amongst Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.
Investigators mentioned James had 12 prior arrests in New York and New Jersey from 1990 to 2007, together with for possession of housebreaking instruments, prison intercourse act, trespassing, larceny and disorderly conduct.
James had no felony convictions and was not prohibited from buying or proudly owning a firearm. Police mentioned the gun used within the assault was legally bought at an Ohio pawn store in 2011. A search of James’ Philadelphia storage unit and house turned up at the least two forms of ammunition, together with the sort used with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, a taser and a blue smoke cannister.
Police mentioned James was born and raised in New York Metropolis. In his movies, he mentioned he completed a machine store course in 1983 then labored as a gear machinist at Curtiss-Wright, an aerospace producer in New Jersey, till 1991 when he was he was hit by a one-two punch of unhealthy information: He was fired from his job and, quickly after, his father whom he had lived with in New Jersey died.
Information present James filed a criticism in opposition to the aerospace firm in federal court docket quickly after he misplaced his job alleging racial discrimination, however it was dismissed a yr later by a choose. He says in a single video, with out providing specifics, that he “couldn’t get any justice for what I went by.”
A spokesperson for Curtiss-Wright didn’t instantly reply to a name looking for remark.
James describes going out and in of a number of psychological well being amenities, together with two within the Bronx borough of New York Metropolis within the Nineteen Seventies.
“Mr. Mayor, let me say to you I’m a sufferer of your psychological well being program in New York Metropolis,” James says in a video earlier this yr, including he’s “stuffed with hate, full anger and bitterness.”
James says he later was a affected person at Bridgeway Home, a psychological well being facility in New Jersey, though that might not be instantly confirmed. Messages left with the ability weren’t returned.
“My aim at Bridgeway in 1997 was to get off Social Safety and return to f――― work,” he says in a video, including that he enrolled in a university and took a course in computer-aided design and manufacturing.
James says he ultimately acquired a job at telecommunications large Lucent Applied sciences in Parsippany, New Jersey, however says he ended up getting fired and returned to Bridgeway Home, this time not as a affected person however as an worker on the upkeep workers. A message looking for remark was despatched to Lucent Applied sciences.
“I simply wish to work. I wish to be an individual that’s productive,” he mentioned.
Touches of that earnest, struggling man confirmed up after James’ parked automotive was hit in Milwaukee. Eugene Yarbrough, pastor of Mt. Zion Wings of Glory Church of God in Christ subsequent door to James’ house, mentioned James was impressed that the pastor owned as much as hitting the automotive. Neither James nor anybody else was there to see the accident. And James known as him as much as say so.
“I simply couldn’t imagine it might be him,” Yarbrough mentioned. “However who is aware of what individuals will do?”
AP reporters Michael Balsamo in Washington, Deepti Hajela in New York, Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia, Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin and Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee contributed to this report.