The man suspected of shooting in the New York subway during rush hour on Tuesday morning, causing mayhem and injuring 23, including 10 by gunfire, was arrested on Wednesday and will be prosecuted for “terrorist attack”, according to announced the authorities.
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Wanted for more than 24 hours, the suspect, Frank James, a 62-year-old African-American was arrested in the East Village district of Manhattan, thanks to a report, according to the New York police.
“We got it,” welcomed the Democratic Mayor of New York, Eric Adams, at a press conference, expected at the turn on the theme of the fight against crime, he who had made it a theme of campaign to be elected last year.
At around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, on a crowded N line train, the suspect, who was wearing a gas mask, ignited two devices that smoked the car, then shot passengers as the train entered the 36th street station south of Brooklyn, injuring 23, 10 of whom were shot.
Among the hospitalized victims were several teenagers, state governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday evening.
The police had launched a manhunt to find the suspect as soon as possible and reassure New Yorkers, who had returned to the subway on Wednesday morning, for some with a hint of concern.
“I don’t really have a choice, I have to take the metro (…) I always pay attention to what surrounds me since September 11 (2001),” Laura Swalm, 49, told AFP. , who lives in the neighboring state of New Jersey.
Known to the police, Frank James had already been arrested 12 times in New York and New Jersey, including for sexual offenses, theft or disturbing public order, authorities said, but he had never been convicted of a felony in New York State.
The man, who will appear in court on Thursday in a Brooklyn court, is now “under federal prosecution for his act, a terrorist attack on public transport”, announced the federal police officer Michael Driscoll.
If convicted, the New York native faces “a life sentence,” prosecutor Breon Peace said.
His motives remain to be clarified. Frank James had a YouTube page, dubbed “prophetoftruth88” (prophet of truth) taken down Wednesday morning for “violating the community rules” of the site. He has published multiple videos where we see him launching long tirades, sometimes rambling and vehement, in which he evokes racial issues, insecurity in New York, especially on the subway, and attacks homosexual people, or new mayor Eric Adams.
33 bullets fired
“We were really lucky it wasn’t much more serious,” New York Police Chief Keechant Sewell said on Tuesday, summarizing the authorities’ relief. The suspect fired 33 rounds.
On site, investigators found three magazines and a Glock 17 pistol, “purchased legally in Ohio by an individual named Frank Robert James,” according to the indictment.
“All you see is black smoke, and I turned to the right, and I saw this guy with a mask,” testified on CNN one of the victims, Hourari Benkada, since his hospital bed.
“The shooting lasted about a minute (…). I have never heard so many shots come out of a handgun… (…) He probably had extended magazines or another firearm”, added this man, hit in the knee .
The attack came as New York has faced a spike in crime since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of homicides rising from 319 in 2019 to 488 in 2021, although the annual toll remains well in below the more than 2,000 per year recorded in the early 1990s.
Shootings have also remained on the rise since the start of the year, going from 260 to 296 in the first quarter of 2022, according to police figures, some of which have made an impression, such as the death on Friday of a 17-year-old girl. , shot dead outside a high school in the Bronx.