Accused subway shooter Frank James pleaded not guilty to federal charges Friday afternoon for his alleged role in a mass shooting on a crowded subway car last month that left 10 shot and another 20 wounded.
James, who appeared in court before federal Judge William Kuntz on Friday afternoon in a khaki jumpsuit, is facing charges of committing a terrorist attack in mass transit and of firing a weapon during a violent attack.
The April 12th mayhem unfolded on a north-bound N train nearing the 36th Street Station in Sunset Park during the morning rush. No one died as a result of the mass shooting but the attack shook the city and touched off a day-long manhunt for the person who’d detonated a smoke bomb and then opened fire.
Eventually, James called an NYPD tip line himself and was taken into custody after apparently wandering around the Lower East Side and the East Village for several hours. Onlookers at a hardware store on First Avenue noticed him and flagged down a nearby police car.
Police said they first connected James to the attack through a 9 mm Glock found at the crime scene which James had legally purchased in 2011 in Ohio. He also left behind a U-haul key investigators tracked back to a truck James had rented in his name, which police found several miles away from the scene of the attack. While surveillance cameras on the subway platform malfunctioned, other cameras captured images, leading up to and after the attack, of someone who looked like James entering and leaving the subway system at nearby stations.
In hours of YouTube videos, James railed about homelessness on the subway, warned of how he could do some sort of random attack and not be found, fantasized about acts of violence and criticized Mayor Eric Adams, while expressing all sorts of racist and homophobic views. He also mentions a mental health diagnosis of PTSD and his federal defenders requested he get a psychiatric evaluation.
Last week a federal grand jury indicted James. He’s been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park for the last month, where his attorneys said FBI agents entered his cell, questioned him and took a DNA swab without showing him a warrant or allowing attorneys to be present. Judge Mann said she’d determine whether that evidence could be used at a later date.
This story has been updated with new information.