NYPD stand post at NJ-NY Path Station's 9th Street stop after NYC subway shooting on April 12, 2022. Photo credit: Ark Republic

Eric Adams Subway Safety Plan fails to catch subway shooter, person of interest named

Weeks after NYC’s mayor announced a tougher crime approach on the city’s transit system, an act of gun violence tests its efficacy.

Frank Robert James, 62, has been identified as the main person of interest in yesterday’s NYC shooting on a Manhattan bound “N” train. Described as a “dark-skin male” by the New York Police Department, James, who has non-violent prior arrests, has been listed as being about 5 feet 5 inches, and is heavy-set at around 170 pounds. 

“We know one of his motives was to create terror in our system,” detailed Mayor Eric Adams on WNYC’s Morning Edition. Gotham City’s head said that the actions of the shooter show “a clear desire to create terror.”

The former NYPD brass asserted at a press conference, “I will continue to do everything in my power to damn the rivers that feed the sea of violence.”

Here’s what authorities are reporting. On Tuesday, at about 8:30 am while the N train was in motion, a man smoke-bombed a subway car with two smoke grenades. Then he fired numerous rounds into the crowd of passengers. Ten people were shot and an additional 13 were injured as they attempted to quickly exit the 36th Street and 4th Avenue station in Sunset Park. Police counted 33 discharged shell cases, 15 bullets, and 5 bullet fragments at their preliminary investigation

For hours, police searched local subway lines, buses and the NJ-NY Path trains. Inside the 9th Street NJ Path, an officer stood at the ready with a military-grade automatic weapon looking at dozens of passengers during rush hour. Along with canvassing public transportation sites and other locales, law enforcement has been reviewing surveillance cameras. Later, transit authorities and NYPD admitted that the cameras in the station where the assault occurred had malfunctioned. These cameras are part of a system of surveillance placed in all 472 subway stops in fall of 2021.

Providing updates in the previously mentioned press conference, NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said investigating officers recovered a 9 millimeter semi-automatic handgun, extra magazines, a hatchet, a canister they think contained gasoline and consumer-grade fireworks and a hobby fuse. 

They also traced a U-Haul van with Arizona license plates to James because of a vehicle key found at the site of the shootings. The van is reported to have been rented in Philadelphia. Local authorities say James has addresses in Massachusetts and the Philadelphia area.

Commissioner Sewell committed to the department using as many resources as possible to bring the assailant to justice. This morning, the new commissioner rode the “A” train line with NYPD deputy commissioner, Edward Caban, and Chief of Department at NYC police, Ken Corey, to quell fears of a Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) system that already has suffered from a sharp dip in riders since the pandemic.

Watch: NYC Mayor Eric Adams, city’s top cop

The Metropolitan Transport Authority is the largest public transportation system in the U.S. and one of the oldest in the world. Photo credit: Nic Y. C. on Unsplash

The attack comes weeks after the city’s Mayor Eric Adams dispatched hundreds of foot traffic cops into subways to reduce crime in and on the MTA with a Subway Safety Plan. Mayor Adams, who met with President Joe Biden in February of this year to address public safety said at the meeting, “The president is here because he knows what the American people want: Justice, safety and prosperity.” 

The NYC mayor also proclaimed that locals called him the “Biden of Brooklyn” due to his agreed stance on investing more in local police departments and social services to address rising gun violence.

Since implementing Mayor Adams’ Subway Safety Plan, the NYPD reported hundreds of arrests of fare jumpers and thousands of summons for misdemeanors. Yet, there was a reverberating concern as to how the shooter was not apprehended with the wealth of resources the NYPD received. James, an elderly, overweight man who was last seen in a uniform similar to the MTA seems to have vanished.

“Millions of dollars funneled into ticketing the poor under the guise of keeping people safe. The people harmed today were not kept safe,” messaged @sleepisocialist.

While the Subway Safety Plan is a very recently implemented strategy, NYPD chief of transit, Justin Wilcox, did emphasize that law enforcement would focus on misdemeanors. A soft-extension of the controversial broken-windows policy, authorities have been executing arrests and stop-and-frisks on lesser crimes in order to stop violent crimes. 

“Someday soon today’s despicable NY subway attack will be used to justify putting even more cops on the subway and on the street,” surmised political commentator Touré Neblett.

The uptick is already happening. Mayor Adams confirmed that he is working to send the deputy mayor who oversees public safety “throughout the globe and find out what new technologies are available that can help keep people equal[ly] safe during this new climate of over proliferation of guns, of people using guns to go into schools, ballparks.”

James, nor any other suspect has not been located by authorities at Ark Republic’s press time.

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