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Federal Grand Jury Indicts Alleged NYC Subway Shooter on Charges That Could Send Him to Prison for Life

Frank Robert James.

Frank Robert James.  (Image via the NYPD.)

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York has indicted Frank Robert James, 62, in connection with a mass shooting on a New York City subway train last month.

James was previously charged by prosecutors with violating 18 U.S.C. 1992(a)(7), a statute designed to combat terrorist attacks and other violence on U.S. mass transit systems.

The indictment, which was filed on Friday, alleges that statute and others under two separate counts.  When rolled together into a coherent unit, the two counts are described in the document itself follows:  (1) committing a terrorist attack and other violence against a mass transit system and vehicle carrying passengers and employees, and (2) discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.  The first count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.  The second carries a mandatory minimum of ten years behind bars and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz will handle the case, but no arraignment date has been set.

Frank Robert James.  (Image via the NYPD.)

Frank Robert James.  (Image via the NYPD.)

The NYPD has previously said that James was the man who opened fire on an N-train car during rush hour at 8:26 a.m. on April 12.

James is believed to have been armed with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, the authorities said after the attack. He allegedly set off two smoke grenades on the second car of the Manhattan-bound subway train while it was heading from the 59th Street station to the 36th Street station, all within the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, Law&Crime previously reported.

James shot 10 people and fled, police said shortly after the incident. Thirteen people received injuries from smoke inhalation, falling down, or panic, Chief of Detectives James Essig told reporters at the time. No one died.

James was easily traceable by what authorities say they recovered when responding to reports of gunfire and smoke-emitting devices.

“Searches of the scene of the attack revealed two bags, both of which were recovered from the scene,” FBI agent Jorge Alvarez wrote in a 10-page affidavit released back in April. “The first bag contained, among other items, a firearm, a plastic container containing gasoline, a torch, a U-Haul key, and multiple bank cards. The firearm was a Glock 17 pistol manufactured in Austria.”

Frank James's Glock

Frank James’s Glock, per the FBI.

The FBI wrote that records provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed that the firearm was “lawfully purchased in Ohio” by an individual named “Frank Robert James.”

James is believed to have rented the U-Haul in Philadelphia.  The authorities have said that they believe James drove the vehicle across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at approximately 4:11 a.m. and left it a few blocks away from the subway stop where the gunfire unfolded.

Frank James's U-Haul

Frank James’s U-Haul spotted by NYPD surveillance footage, per the FBI.

Police elsewhere said they found three extended magazines, two detonated smoke grenades, two non-detonated smoke grenades, a hatchet, and consumer-grade fireworks.  They further found a debit card issued to James.

James also reportedly posted a series of rambling monologues on social media accounts — including YouTube and Facebook — on subjects such as race, crime, and government.  He at times railed against defendants who pleaded for leniency from the courts.  At other times he spoke about the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The indictment is below:

[Images as noted.]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.