It is hard not to wonder whether the mayhem in New York’s Brooklyn subway actually stemmed from racism and violence. Suffice it to register that the man accused of shooting 10 people on the subway train has been arrested and charged with a federal terrorism offence after a daylong manhunt and a tipster’s call led police to him on a Manhattan street. Frank R. James, 62, was taken into custody about 30 hours after the carnage on a rush-hour train, which left five victims in critical condition and people around the city on edge.
“My fellow New Yorkers, we got him,” Mayor Eric Adams said. James was awaiting arraignment on a charge that pertains to terrorist or other violent attacks against mass transit systems and carries a sentence of up to life in prison, US Attorney Breon Peace said. In recent months, James railed in online videos about racism and violence in the United States of America and about his experiences with mental health care in New York City. He had criticised Mr Adams’ policies on mental health and subway safety.
But the motive for the subway attack remains unclear, and there is no indication that James had links with terror organisations, international or otherwise. It wasn’t immediately clear whether James, who is from New York but has lived recently in Philadelphia and Milwaukee, has an attorney or anyone else who can speak for him. A sign taped to the door of James’ Milwaukee apartment asks that all mail be delivered to a post office box.
As terrified riders fled the attack, James apparently hopped onto another train. He got out at the next station, disappearing into America’s most populous city. Police launched a massive effort to find him, releasing his name and issuing cellphone alerts. They got a tip on April 13 that he was in a McDonald’s restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village neighbourhood.
James was gone when officers arrived, but they soon spotted him on a busy corner nearby. Four police cars zoomed around a corner, officers leapt out and soon, a compliant James was in handcuffs as a crowd of people looked on.
James had set off smoke grenades in a com- muter-packed subway car and then fired at least 33 shots with a 9 mm handgun, police said. At least a dozen people who escaped gunshot wounds were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries. The motive behind the outrage, an extreme form of mental aberration, remains fogbound. But the consequences of America’s malignant gun culture, and the propensity of its citizens to violence, have, once again, been confirmed.