Man arrested in Brooklyn subway attack charged with terrorism
Law enforcement located James after police were briefed on his whereabouts.
James is charged in Tuesday’s attack in which five people were in critical condition after the morning shooting but all 10 gunshot victims were expected to survive. The charge against him carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
Police initially said on Tuesday that James was wanted for questioning because he had rented a van possibly linked to the attack, but were unsure if he was responsible for the shooting.
Over the past few months, James had posted videos online about racism and violence in the United States and about his experiences with mental health care in New York. In some videos, he criticized Adams’ mental health and subway safety policies.
The shooter threw smoke grenades into a crowded subway car and then fired at least 33 shots from a 9mm handgun, police said. At least a dozen other people who escaped gunshot wounds were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.
The shooter escaped in the chaos, but left numerous clues, including the gun, ammunition clips, a hatchet, smoke grenades, gasoline and the key to a U-Haul pickup truck.
That key led investigators to James, a New York-area native who had more recent addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.
Federal investigators determined that the gun used in the shooting was purchased by James from a pawnshop — a licensed gun dealer — in the Columbus, Ohio, area in 2011.
The van was found, unoccupied, near a station where investigators determined the shooter entered the subway. No explosives or firearms were found in the van, a law enforcement official who was not authorized to comment on the investigation told The Associated Press and did so under cover of anonymity. Police found other items, including pillows, suggesting he was sleeping or planned to sleep in the van, the official said.
Investigators believe James drove from Philadelphia on Monday and reviewed surveillance video showing a man matching his physical description exiting the van early Tuesday morning, the official said. Another video shows James entering a subway station in Brooklyn with a large bag, the official said.
In addition to analyzing financial and phone records related to James, investigators were reviewing hours of rambling and crude videos James posted on YouTube and other social media platforms as they tried to discern a motive.
In a video, posted a day before the attack, James, who is black, criticizes crime against black people and says drastic action is needed.
“You have kids coming in here taking machine guns and mowing down innocent people,” James says. “It’s not going to get better until we improve it,” he said, adding that he believed things would only change if some people were “trampled, kicked and tortured” out of the way. their “comfort zone”.
In another video, he says: “This nation was born in violence, it is kept alive by violence or the threat of it and it will die a violent death. Nothing is going to stop this. »
His posts are full of violent language and bigoted comments, some against black people.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called the messages “concerning” and officials tightened security for Adams, who was already self-isolating following a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday.
Several of James’ videos mention New York City subways. A Feb. 20 video says the mayor and governor’s plan to address homelessness and safety in the subway system “is doomed” and describes itself as a “victim” of the government’s mental health programs. the city. A January 25 video criticizes Adams’ plan to end gun violence.
The Brooklyn subway station where passengers fled the smoky train during the attack was open as usual Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the violence.
Commuter Jude Jacques, who takes the D train to his job as a fire safety director about two blocks from the location of the shooting, said he prays every morning but has a special request Wednesday.
“I said, ‘God, it’s all in your hands,'” Jacques said. “I was anxious, and you can imagine why. Everyone is scared because it just happened.
Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jim Mustian, Beatrice Dupuy, Karen Matthews, Julie Walker, Deepti Hajela, Michelle L. Price and David Porter in New York contributed to this report, and Michael Kunzelman contributed from College Park, Maryland .