Alleged subway shooter Frank James indicted on federal charges of terrorism, gun violence

Suspect Frank James is led out of the 9th Precinct to be transferred to federal custody, April 13, 2022.
Photo by Dean Moses

The alleged Brooklyn subway shooter who terrorized commuters on a Manhattan-bound N train at the 36th Street station on April 12 has been indicted by a federal grand jury on terrorism and gun violence charges.

A Brooklyn grand jury on May 6 formalized the allegations against Frank James, who stands accused of injuring 23, including 10 who suffered gunshot wounds, during the mass shooting. At his arraignment — a date for which feds say has not yet been set — he faces charges of terrorism on public transit, among others, with the prospect of life behind bars, according to prosecutors. 

James allegedly got on the Manhattan-bound N train at Kings Highway early that Tuesday morning, and when the train pulled into 36th Street station just before 8:30 am, he put on a gas mask, pulled canisters out of his bag that filled the subway car with smoke, and fired 33 shots at straphangers.

Dramatic footage from the scene showed smoke billowing out of the train car as coughing riders ran out and wounded commuters hobbled onto the platform, with blood stains covering the ground.

Authorities later said that James got off the train with his victims and boarded an R train on the other side of the platform alongside some of his victims. He apparently rode it one stop north to 25th Street station where he slipped away and out of the underground transit system, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.

Straphangers stumble out of a smoke-filled train at 36th Street station in Brooklyn on April 12.Will B. Wylde via Twitter

Cops cuffed James, 62, in the East Village after a more-than-30-hour manhunt.

If convicted of “count one” (terrorist attack and other violence against a mass transportation system and vehicle carrying passengers and employees), James faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the indictment. If convicted of “count two” (discharging a firearm during a crime of violence), he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a max of life in prison.

The jury on Friday charged that James “did knowingly and without lawful authority and permission commit and attempt to commit an act, including the use of a dangerous weapon, with the intent to cause death and serious bodily injury to one or more persons.”

Furthermore, the jury maintains that James — who was born in New York City but more recently lived in Philadelphia and Milwaukee — crossed state lines to commit the offense.

Additional reporting by Kevin Duggan