NEW YORK (PIX11) — Frank R. James, the man accused of shooting 10 subway riders in Brooklyn on Tuesday, appeared in court on Thursday and was ordered held without bail.
During his arraignment, prosecutors alleged James, 62, terrified the “entire city” when he allegedly put on a gas mask, set off smoke bombs and fired a gun 33 times onboard an N train in Sunset Park during Tuesday morning’s rush-hour commute.
James was arrested Wednesday on the Lower East Side after he called the NYPD CrimeStoppers tip line on himself, according to law enforcement sources. Investigators were still examining the possible motive in the attack.
James spoke only to answer “yes” to standard questions during the brief proceeding in a federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday He faces federal terrorism charges. The specific charge applies to attacks on mass transit systems, but there’s currently no evidence linking James to terror organizations, officials said.
“The defendant terrifyingly opened fire on passengers on a crowded subway train, interrupting their morning commute in a way the city hasn’t seen in more than 20 years,” Assistant U.S. attorney Sara K. Winik said. “The defendant’s attack was premeditated, was carefully planned, and it caused terror among the victims and our entire city.”
James’ lawyer, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, agreed to his being held without bail, at least for now. His attorneys could seek bail later on.
“What happened in the New York City subway system on Tuesday was a tragedy. It is a blessing that it was not worse,” James’ lawyer said. “We are all still learning about what happened on that train and we caution against a rush to judgment. What we do know is this: Yesterday, Mr. James saw his photograph on the news. He called CrimeStoppers to help. He told them where he was. Initial press and police reports in cases like this one are often inaccurate. Mr. James is entitled to a fair trial and we will ensure that he receives one.”
At the request of James’ lawyers, Magistrate Roanne Mann said she would ask the federal Bureau of Prisons to provide James with “psychiatric attention,” as well as magnesium tablets for leg cramps, at the federal lockup in Brooklyn where he’s being held.
During the investigation, police and agents searched homes connected to James in Philadelphia and a storage unit in Wisconsin.
James faces up to life in prison if he’s convicted, prosecutors said.
He allegedly put on a gas mask on a northbound N train just before 8:25 a.m. Tuesday, then pulled out two canisters and opened fire as smoke filled the train, police said. Seven men and three women were shot. James allegedly fired 33 times.
Police said James has a criminal history. He was arrested multiple times from 1992-1998, including multiple times in New York and three times in New Jersey