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The Reality

Behind the mask: Frank R. James

By Madiha Masud
Published May 14, 2022

In the midst of a busy morning, a sudden blur of emotion was occupied on the N train in the borough of the Best New York Pizza, Brooklyn. Residents have taken the train to their destinations, but what they did not know was that the reality was about to hit them. 
The train had taken off from 59th street station and was heading to the 36th street station. As the N train skips the two stops in between, a smoky cloud has suddenly appeared in one of the cabs on the train. A sudden jolt of open fire had evoked shock in many. Crying and screaming were heard from the neighboring cart, as they peered through the door windows to see what was up.
It was the 12th of April when this had taken place. 

Witnesses had reported smoke and gunshots from the shaded cart.

This situation had occurred during a time in the city as there has been a rise in shooting citywide and an increase in crime that has scared residents who use transits during the pandemic. In the stations and schools surrounding the area, there has been a lockdown for the day as panic and chaos erupted. 


As the N train came to 36th street station, the door opened and smoke billowed through the station. The carts were streaked with blood and people ran out calling for help. Many of the riders ran onto the R train across the platform as many ran out of the train and dragged themselves onto the platform. 


The N train slithers through a neighborhood filled with immigrants from all over Asia and Latin America. Dozens of police vehicles with flashing lights surrounded the streets and helicopters flew overhead. 

Mayor Eric Adams's response 

Mayor Adams had stated that the security camera at the 36th Street subway station that might have captured the scene was not operating. This made the search for the gunman a bit difficult. He has pledged to reduce crime, however, since his first month in office, it has risen. He recommitted to his pledge and with a strong tone declared: “We will not surrender our city to the violent few.” 


As the day comes to an end and looking for suspects has caused panic throughout the city. Flyers and social media news had already started to go around, and calls and tips kept chiming in. 


A person of interest to suspect 

As the police were searching the train, they discovered a handgun, three magazines, a credit card with Mr. James' name on it, and a key to a U-Haul van. The vehicle was then found on West Seventh Street and Kings Highway in the Gravesend neighborhood, two blocks from the N-train stop where he had entered the subway and about five miles from the station where the shooting had taken place. 

On Wednesday, April 13, a 21-year-old Syrian man had stated that when he was working on updating equipment at a shop near St. Marks Place and First Avenue in Manhattan's East Village, he saw one of the suspects- Frank R. James- through one of the security cameras. 

As shown in the surveillance footage, Mr. James was wearing a yellow hard hat, an orange working jacket with reflective tape and carrying a backpack in his right hand, and dragging a rolling bag in his left hand. Right after the shooting, James switched to the R train, got off at 25th street, and then took a bus to Park Slope. He bought a mask at the 9th Street Quick Stop and then headed into Manhattan. He was spotted wandering New York City locales behaving more like a tourist rather than a fugitive. 


He was taken to custody for killing 10 and injuring at least 23 people. 


Frank R. James, age 62, was taken to custody on Wednesday afternoon and he remained calm as he was being questioned. He was said to have a past criminal record in New Jersey which includes three arrests in 2007 and one for trespassing in 1992. Mr. James also had nine arrests in New York from 1992 to 1998. Frank R. James had it all planned out. 

It was found beneath the surfaces of YouTube, Frank R. James had posted a video about his plans. He said he had often wanted to unlive and to “watch people die” right in front of him. 


Breon Peace, a U.S. attorney, stated that James was charged in federal court in Brooklyn with one count of violating a law prohibiting terrorist and other violent attacks against mass transit systems. 


As crime rates have increased and a time of hardship has occurred right after the Pandemic, we were struck with the reality of what can occur anytime and anywhere. 

Chang, Clio. “A List of Everywhere Frank James Allegedly Went before He Was Caught.” Curbed, Curbed, 15 Apr. 2022, Accessed 13 June 2022.

Dienst, Jonathan. “Who Is Frank James? 62-Year-Old Named Prime Suspect in Brooklyn Subway Shooting.” NBC New York, NBC New York, 13 Apr. 2022, Accessed 13 June 2022.

“Interviews, Arrest Records and Hours of His Own Words on YouTube Offer a Fractured Portrait of Frank James.” The New York Times, 2022, Accessed 13 June 2022.

“Mayor Eric Adams Says New York City Will Not Surrender to the “Violent Few.”” The New York Times, 2022, Accessed 13 June 2022.

“NYPD Announces Citywide Crime Statistics for June 2020.” The Official Website of the City of New York, July 2020, Accessed 13 June 2022.

“Who Reported the Suspect? Claims Abound.” The New York Times, 2022, Accessed 13 June 2022.

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