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Brooklyn Subway Attack Suspect Is Black Nationalist With Grudge Against NYC Mayor

Brooklyn, NY – Police have named a suspect in Tuesday’s Brooklyn subway attack that left 29 people injured, 10 of them with gunshot wounds.

Authorities named 62-year-old Frank R. James as a “person of interest” on Tuesday night and released his photos to the public, WNBC reported.

By Wednesday morning, police had reclassified him as a “suspect” in the attack on the N train as it arrived on the platform at the 36th Street station, WABC reported.

New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant Sewell said she had tightened security about New York City Mayor Eric Adams after videos of James ranting about Adams and violence in New York City were found online.

Commissioner Sewell called James’ videos “concerning,” WNBC reported.

In one of the videos, James called 9/11 “the most beautiful day in the history of this country,” according to Rolling Stone.

“These are the people that was supposed to be helping me. They made me worse,” he ranted in a video posted March 2 that appeared to be directed at a behavioral health agency in New Jersey.

“They made me f-king worse,” James continued in the video that contained a segment on recent attacks in New York subways. “They made me more dangerous than I could ever — than anything, anyone could ever f-king imagine. These are the people that Eric Adams wants to send out to help the homeless and whatever the case may be. It ain’t gonna happen.”

In the video, he mocked the mayor’s plan to increase security on the New York subway system, Rolling Stone reported.

“He can’t stop no f-king crime in no subways. He may slow it down, but he ain’t stopping s-t,” he laughed and said there were too many entrances and exits to catch criminals.

“With this program in place, with all these police — I’d still get off,” James boasted in the video. “I know I could get off because they can’t be everywhere… Those who go on to commit crimes, like shooting? That means you have to have police in every station, and that’s not possible.”

Social media posts by “Frank Whitaker,” who has been identified as James, revealed that the suspect is a black nationalist.

He recently made a series of posts that indicated he was planning to kill people.

James ranted about various ethnic groups throughout his videos, Rolling Stone reported.

“White people and black people should not have any contact with each other,” he said in a video posted March 23 entitled “born in an insane asylum.”

“Their anger is building up,” James said. “Nothing can happen here differently than what happened over in Europe with the Jews. I want you to believe that that’s possible.”

The racist videos go back at least five years, Rolling Stone reported.

In late 2017, James posted an anti-Semitic rant to Facebook where he accused Jewish people of having “so much contempt for blacks.”

The attack on the subway began at about 8:30 a.m. on April 12 as an N train pulled into the 36th Street and Fourth Avenue station in Sunset Park, WABC reported

Witnesses said a man wearing a gray hoodie with construction vest over it took a gas mask out of his bag and put it on.

Then he opened two smoke canisters inside the subway car and pulled out a 9mm handgun, WABC reported.

NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said the suspect opened fire as smoke filled the car.

Chief Essig said 10 people were shot, WABC reported.

Nineteen other people were injured in the chaos that ensued.

The chief said that none of the injuries were life threatening, WABC reported.

Law enforcement sources said that the gunman’s weapon may have jammed because the gunman left it behind when he fled the scene.

He also left behind a bag that contained more smoke canisters, fireworks, a hatchet, a spray bottle of gasoline, a fuse, a key to a U-Haul, and a credit card belonging to James, WNBC reported.

Police recovered three extended magazines of ammunition in the train car, too.

One was in the handgun, one was in the backpack, and a third was found under the seat, WNBC reported.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) did an urgent trace to identify the gun’s manufacturer, seller, and initial owner.

Senior law enforcement officials told WNBC that the gun used to fire 33 rounds on the subway car was traced back to James.

Investigators connected James to a U-Haul truck with Arizona plates that was abandoned just a few blocks from the 36th Street subway stop, WNBC reported.

Police said an observant neighbor called police just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday and reported the truck blocking a building’s driveway on King’s Highway in Gravesend.

Investigators said James rented the U-Haul in Philadelphia using the credit card recovered in the bag left by the suspect on the train, WABC reported.

Police said James has ties to Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and New York.

Officials said James had been arrested in New Jersey three times, WNBC reported.

He was charged with petit larceny and disorderly conduct in 2007 and trespassing in 1992, according to police.

Officials said he didn’t have a history of violence although he has made “terroristic threats” in the past, WNBC reported.

However, sources said the threats were like the ones commonly made by mentally-disturbed individuals.

Authorities said they do not have a motive for the subway attack, WNBC reported.

Commissioner Sewell said there was no ongoing threat to the transit system.

“There are currently no known explosive devices on our subway trains and this is not being investigated as an act of terrorism at this time,” she told reporters at a press conference earlier on Tuesday.

A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the gunman, WNBC reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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