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MANHATTAN, NY – The New York City Police Department has announced that an individual who was considered a “person of interest” in Tuesday morning’s subway shooting that left 29 injured has been upgraded to a full-on suspect in the incident and publicly identified by name.
Police are conducting a massive manhunt for Frank R. James, 62, and are offering a $50,000 reward for any information that leads to his arrest.
The shooting took place at approximately 8:30 a.m. on a Manhattan-bound ‘N’ subway car during the Tuesday morning commute, as the train was nearing the 36th Street subway station in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, officials say.
At that time, the suspect – who according to bystanders had been mumbling to himself repeatedly on the train – put on a gas mask, detonated a smoke canister, and then pulled out a .38 caliber handgun and opened fire on the other passengers.
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The shooter fired at least 33 times, hitting ten people; at that point the suspect’s gun jammed, which authorities say most likely saved lives.
As the train pulled into the 36th Street subway station, bystander video shows smoke pouring out of the train’s doors as panicked riders spilled out onto the platform; some passengers could be seen carrying injured victims out, while others ran up stairs or to another train that was in the station at the time in an attempt to escape.
In the confusion, the suspect fled the scene and has been on the lam ever since.
A total of 29 people were transported to local hospitals with various injuries; currently there are no fatalities stemming from the incident, although five of the gunshot victims are currently in critical but stable condition, police say.
New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a press conference Tuesday evening that the suspect most likely acted alone and is currently still considered an “active shooter.”
“At this time, we still do not know the suspect’s motivation,” he said. “Clearly this individual boarded the train and was intent on violence.”
James became a suspect after several items related to the shooting were discovered at the scene, police say, including a key from a rented U-Haul van – which was discovered Tuesday afternoon parked in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighborhood – in addition to the Glock 9 mm semi-automatic handgun used in the attack, three extended magazines, a hatchet, gasoline, four smoke grenades and fireworks.
An image of the suspect was also recovered by police from a bystander’s cell phone.
Anyone with information is asked to call NYPD Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.