(NEW YORK) — Dozens of people were injured, including 10 by gunfire, in a mass shooting on a rush-hour subway train in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday morning, triggering a manhunt for the gunman.
More than 24 hours later, authorities announced they had apprehended a suspect in the shooting — 62-year-old Frank James of Philadelphia — and that federal prosecutors had charged him with a terror-related offense.
In the hours since the incident, hundreds of New York Police Department detectives have been on the case, scouring surveillance footage, interviewing witnesses and tracking leads from evidence left behind at the scene to plot out how the attack unfolded.
Around 2 p.m., James rented a U-Haul in Philadelphia that was later recovered near a subway station in Brooklyn, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Department of Justice. The key to the van and a credit card, which law enforcement sources told ABC News was used to rent the U-Haul, were among the gunman’s possessions recovered from the scene of the shooting.
James picked up the U-Haul from U-Haul Moving & Storage of Allegheny West at 2:03 p.m., sources said.
Around 6:17 p.m., James visited a storage facility in Philadelphia, according to the complaint. A receipt for the unit was found in a jacket that James discarded on the subway platform, authorities said.
While executing a search warrant on the unit on April 12, law enforcement agents said they had recovered gun parts and ammo, including “9mm ammunition, a threaded 9mm pistol barrel that allows for a silencer or suppresser to be attached, targets and .223 caliber ammunition, which is used with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle,” the complaint stated.
Agents found more gun parts during a search of James’ apartment, on April 12, according to the complaint, including “an empty magazine for a Glock handgun, a taser, a high-capacity rifle magazine and a blue smoke canister.”
The U-Haul was captured by surveillance footage driving over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn just after 4 a.m., after crossing state lines from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and then to New York, according to the complaint.
Security cameras captured an individual wearing a yellow hard hat and “orange working jacket” toting a backpack and rolling bag leaving the U-Haul at approximately 6:12 a.m. at West 7th Street and Kings Highway in Brooklyn, according to the complaint. Police ultimately found the U-Haul nearby on Kings Highway, about three blocks from an N subway stop where James entered the subway system, authorities said. He entered the Kings Highway station at around 8 a.m., sources said.
The shooting unfolded shortly before 8:30 a.m., just as a Manhattan-bound N train approached the 36th Street station in Sunset Park. A man mumbling to himself on the train donned a gas mask and detonated a smoke canister before pulling out a handgun and firing 33 bullets, police said. Ten people, including three teenagers, were shot, authorities said. The hard hat and orange jacket were found at the scene, police said.
James eluded law enforcement by boarding an R train that pulled into the station and traveled one stop before exiting at the 25th Street station, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig. A surveillance camera recorded a man matching James’ driver’s license photograph exiting the 25th Street station at approximately 8:40 a.m., according to the complaint.
James was seen again that day at a Park Slope subway stop at 9:15 a.m., Essig said. He bought a new mask and entered the Seventh Avenue subway station, sources said.
James made it into Manhattan and, sometime that night, checked into the Chelsea International Hostel on West 20th Street, sources said.
Police named James as a person of interest in the investigation later that day.
Social media posts circulated appearing to show James, now a suspect in the shooting, walking around Manhattan.
Multiple sightings began at around 10:30 a.m., when he was spotted sitting outside Dimes, a restaurant in Chinatown, sources said. Witnesses took pictures of him sitting, apparently using a Link NYC hub to charge his phone, and posted to social media, tagging police, sources said.
A few hours later, James was spotted getting lunch at Katz’s on the Lower East Side, sources said.
The NYPD received a tip saying the suspect was in Manhattan’s East Village, in a McDonald’s at Sixth Street and First Avenue, police said. After reviewing the 911 call, investigators believe James may have called the police on himself, an NYPD official told ABC News. James reportedly said: “I think you’re looking for me. I’m seeing my picture all over the news and I’ll be around this McDonald’s.”
Frank Robert James had nowhere else to run or hide — and is now in NYPD custody. The work of our detectives is second to none and the dedication of our patrol officers is never ending. pic.twitter.com/uOXliUvoJ7
— Commissioner Sewell (@NYPDPC) April 13, 2022
Responding officers didn’t see James in the McDonald’s. A good Samaritan spotted him nearby on St. Mark’s Place and First Avenue and flagged down police, sources said. James was taken into custody without incident at 1:42 p.m.
James was transferred into federal custody after his arrest and charged by federal prosecutors with a terror-related offense for an attack on mass transit, officials said.
James made his first court appearance and didn’t enter a plea. He was ordered held without bail. His defense attorney, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, called the shooting a tragedy but said that initial information can often be wrong. She also lauded James for turning himself in.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Mark Crudele, Luke Barr and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.
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