New York City shooting: what happened in Brooklyn subway attack, who is suspect Frank R James - and motive

A man wanted over an attack on a subway train in New York that left 10 people wounded by gunfire has been arrested.

Several people were shot and injured at a New York subway station during a Tuesday (12 April) morning attack that left commuters bleeding on a train platform.

A gunman in a construction vest donned a gas mask, set off a smoke canister on a rush-hour train and shot at least 10 people, authorities in New York City have said.

Officials said at least five people suffered gunshot wounds with at least 11 in total suffering some kind of injury in the attack at the 36th Street station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park area.

Here is everything you need to know.

What happened?

Violence unfolded on Tuesday (12 April) when a gunman in a gas mask and construction vest set off a smoke grenade and fired a barrage of bullets in a rush-hour subway train, shooting at least 10 people.

Fire personnel had responded to reports of smoke at the station at around 8.30am local time (1.30pm BST).

The gunfire erupted on a train that pulled into a station in the Sunset Park neighbourhood, about a 15-minute ride from Manhattan and predominantly home to Hispanic and Asian communities.

Investigators believe the suspect’s weapon jammed, preventing them from continuing to fire.

The attack made the subway a scene of horror: a smoke-filled car with at least 33 rounds of gunfire going off, police said. Frightened commuters ran from the train and others limped out of it. At least one person collapsed on the platform.

(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

One rider’s video, shot through a closed door between subway cars, shows a person in a hooded sweatshirt raising an arm and pointing at something as five bangs sound.

Five people were in critical condition but expected to survive. At least 29 in all were treated at hospitals for gunshot wounds, smoke inhalation and other conditions, according to hospitals.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last fall that it had put security cameras in all 472 subway stations citywide, saying they would put criminals on an “express track to justice”.

But at the station where the train arrived, the cameras apparently were not working.

MTA system chief Janno Lieber told TV interviewers he did not know why the cameras malfunctioned, but said police had “a lot of different options” from cameras elsewhere on the subway line.

Who is Frank R James?

Frank R James, 62, was taken into custody in Manhattan.

Investigators announced on Tuesday afternoon that they were searching for James, who was believed to have rented a van possibly connected to the violence. By Wednesday morning, New York authorities said he was a suspect in the shooting.

In the wake of the shooting, authorities tightened the security detail for New York’s mayor after police uncovered “concerning” social media posts made by James.

Authorities said that the social media posts mentioned homelessness, New York and mayor Eric Adams, James’ struggles with mental illness, and decried the US as a racist place awash in violence.

James escaped in the chaos but left behind numerous clues including the gun, ammunition magazines, a hatchet, smoke grenades, gasoline and the key to a U-Haul van.

That key led investigators to James, a New York City-area native who had more recent addresses in Philadelphia and Wisconsin, and clues to a life of setbacks and anger as he bounced among factory and maintenance jobs and was sacked at least twice.

Investigators said James had 12 prior arrests from 1990 to 2007, including for possession of burglary tools, criminal sex act, trespassing, larceny and disorderly conduct.

Federal investigators determined the gun used in the shooting was purchased by James at a pawn shop — a licensed firearms dealer — in the Columbus, Ohio, area in 2011, a law enforcement official said.

The van was found unoccupied near a station where investigators determined the gunman had entered the subway system.

No explosives or firearms were found in the van. Police did find other items, including pillows, suggesting he may have been sleeping or planned to sleep in the van.

After a 30-hour manhunt, James was arrested without incident after a tipster, thought by police to be James himself, said he could be found near a McDonald’s on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Investigators believe James drove up from Philadelphia on Monday 11 April.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul during a press conference at the site of the shooting (Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Was it a terrorist attack?

James has been charged with a terrorism offence.

The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, announced the charge against the 62-year-old at a press conference on Wednesday (13 April) afternoon.

Police said their top priority was getting the suspect off the streets as they investigate their biggest unanswered question, why?

Police said they were still searching for a motive from a flood of details about his life, and investigators have been reviewing hours of rambling, profanity-filled videos posted on YouTube and other social media platforms — replete with violent language and bigoted comments, some against other black people.

Is New York safe?

The attack has unnerved a city on guard about a rise in gun violence and the ever-present threat of terrorism.

It has left some New Yorkers jittery about riding the nation’s busiest subway system and prompted officials to increase policing at transportation hubs from Philadelphia to Connecticut.