NYC Mayor Eric Adams held without bail as suspected gunman Frank R. James in honor of heroes of subway attack

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – Frontline MTA employees who assisted with rescue efforts during Tuesday’s subway shooting in Brooklyn will receive a special proclamation Friday morning at New York City Hall.

Mayor Eric Adams, who continues to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, will lead the ceremony virtually.

It comes as the suspected shooter remains in jail without a bond.

Frank R. James made his first appearance Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn, where cameras aren’t allowed.

James, who allegedly donned a gas mask, fired a smoke bomb and opened fire on a crowded subway train in Sunset Park, did not respond to a plea deal.

He was ordered permanent, although the judge did not rule out asking for bail in the future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Winik told the judge that James, 62, who was taken into custody Wednesday after wandering around the East Village and possibly calling the police himself, struck fear into the whole town.

“The defendant shockingly opened fire on passengers on a crowded subway train, disrupting their morning commute in a way not seen in this city for more than 20 years,” she said. “The defendant’s attack was premeditated, carefully planned, and incited terror among the victims and throughout our city. The defendant’s mere presence outside of federal custody poses a serious threat to the community and he should be held pending trial.”

The judge agreed and initially denied James bail.

“The complaint speaks for itself,” he said.

RELATED | Frank R. James: What we know about the suspect on the Brooklyn subway

James’ court-appointed attorney, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, agreed that he would be held without bail for the time being, but could ask for bail later.

New details emerged Thursday just hours after James’ court appearance, in which investigators believe James may have rushed the assault he allegedly carried out Tuesday, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Investigators are working to determine if James intended to carry out the attack when the train pulled into the 36 Street Station, or if he was somehow startled and fired his smoke grenades earlier than intended, the sources said.

While James made no statements to arresting officers or at the precinct, it is one avenue investigators are exploring.

As the subway car filled with smoke, James was believed to be on one knee to avoid the rising smoke and opened fire from that crouched position. Investigators believe most of the gunshot wounds were to the legs or hands as a result.

In a court filing before his appearance, federal prosecutors called the shooting calculated and “entirely premeditated” and said James wore a hard hat and construction worker-style jacket as disguise and then removed them after the exchange of fire to avoid detection.

Prosecutors suggested that James had the means to carry out more attacks, noting that he had ammunition and other gun-related items in a Philadelphia storage unit.

While James’ lengthy arrest record may appear “unremarkable,” they said it “paints a picture of a person who has a penchant for defying authority and who is unable or unwilling to conform his conduct to the law.” “.

Prosecutors called him a “serious and ongoing risk to the community.”

Eisner-Grynberg also asked her client to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and found that he was suffering from leg cramps. Attorneys agreed to a permanent detention order pending a possible future bail request.

James spoke briefly during the hearing.

When asked if he understood his rights, he said, “Yes.” When asked if he saw the complaint, he said, “Yes, I did.” When asked if he understood the allegation, he said, “Yes.”

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said James was spotted by passers-by in the St. Marks Place and First Avenue area, and among the calls received by Crime Stoppers was one person who pretended to be the suspect himself.

According to police sources, James called the NYPD and told them he was the man the police were looking for and that he wanted to turn himself in.

“I think you’re looking for me,” the caller reportedly said. “I see my picture all over the news and I’ll be near this McDonalds.”

He was found nearby and taken into custody without incident.

“Dear New Yorkers, we have him,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “We got him.”

RELATED | The man who discovered alleged subway shooter Frank R. James speaks up

James is charged under a federal law prohibiting terrorist and other violent attacks on mass transit systems. The federal government also accuses him of having crossed national borders.

“We hope this arrest brings some comfort to the victims and to the people of New York City,” Sewell said. “We have used every resource at our disposal to collect and process significant evidence directly linking Mr. James to the shooting. We were able to quickly shrink his world. He had nowhere to run away from.”

Officials say the investigation is ongoing and they are urging anyone with additional information to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or, for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). .

James faces a life sentence if convicted in the attack that left at least 29 people dead or otherwise injured, shaking a city already troubled by a sharp rise in crime.

Officials said any possible motive remains unclear, but witnesses said the lone gunman was seen mumbling to himself while wearing a safety vest, before donning the gas mask and removing a canister from his pocket, which then contained the car filled with smoke. Then he started shooting.

Ten people were hit by bullets, while 19 others were either scraped or injured in the ensuing chaos.

None of the injuries were life-threatening, and authorities said a magazine lodged in the gun may have saved lives.

RELATED | The Brooklyn subway shooting has fueled fears about public transit safety

After the shooting, NYPD detective chief James Essig said James boarded an R train that pulled into the station and went one station before getting off at the 25th Street station. Afterwards, James was spotted again just under an hour later at a Park Slope subway station before disappearing from view.

Authorities have discovered no significant felony arrests in James’ criminal history, only a number of misdemeanor charges. But James was known to the NYPD with a criminal record spanning six years, 1992 to 1998, with nine prior arrests.

Obscene social media posts from James seem highly critical of the mayor for his homelessness policies, including videos full of racist and sexist slurs and rambling rants about Adam’s crackdown on people living on the subway.

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Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All rights reserved. NYC Mayor Eric Adams held without bail as suspected gunman Frank R. James in honor of heroes of subway attack

Dais Johnston

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