BROOKLYN (NewsNation) — An intensive hunt is underway for the person who set off smoke grenades and fired a gun on a crowded New York City subway train, wounding passengers Tuesday morning.
Police are searching for Frank James, who New York Mayor Eric Adams said is now identified as a suspect. The 62-year-old was initially considered a person of interest.
“Frank James is now a suspect in yesterday’s subway shooting and no longer just a person of interest,” Fabien Levy, Adams’ press secretary said on Wednesday.
Investigators believe James rented a U-Haul after a van key was found among evidence at the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The van was recovered about a 30-minute drive from the station.
James has addresses in Wisconsin and Philadelphia, where the U-Haul was rented, officials said. A $50,000 reward is being offered for any information that leads to James’ arrest, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The MTA and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 each offered $12,500 in reward money, and the New York City Police Foundation offered an additional $25,000.
A motive for the shooting isn’t known, but police say James has posted dozens of videos online making lengthy rants with violent and bigoted themes, and more recently criticized Adams.
Crime scene photos obtained by NewsNation show the gun James allegedly left behind: a 9-millimeter Glock-17 with an extended magazine with rounds still inside on a seat of a subway car, a hatchet on the floor. He also allegedly left a bag with consumer-grade fireworks inside and gasoline nearby.
Witnesses said the gun jammed, and the gunman dropped it as he fled the car.
“We are truly fortunate that this was not significantly worse than it is,” said New York City’s Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
James has been linked to multiple rambling videos posted on a YouTube channel that police are examining. The videos appear to show a man ranting about race and homelessness. Sewell called the posts concerning and is boosting the mayor’s security detail.
“So we’re not calling them threats, he made some concerning posts, or someone made some concerning posts; we cannot attribute it to that individual yet because it is under investigation, but out of an abundance of caution, we’re going to tighten the mayor’s security detail.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called it an attack that speaks to a larger issue, saying, “I’m committing the full resources of our state to fight this surge in crime; this insanity that is seizing our city because we want to get back to normal.”