Suspected Brooklyn subway shooter ordered held without bail
The shooting rampage “was premeditated” and “in cold blood,” attorneys said at the man’s first court appearance
By Noah Goldberg and Larry McShane
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The accused Brooklyn subway shooter was held without bail Thursday afternoon after a federal prosecutor said the heinous attack where 10 straphangers were shot and another 13 injured sent a chill down the spine of every New Yorker.
The rampage by defendant Frank James aboard a crowded N train “was premeditated, it was carefully planned and it caused terror among the victims and our entire city,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Winik during a Brooklyn Federal Court hearing. “The defendant’s mere presence outside federal custody presents a serious risk of danger to the community and he should be detained pending trial.”
Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann quickly agreed, remanding the 62-year suspect who is accused of igniting a smoke bomb before opening fire aboard a packed N train rumbling beneath Sunset Park during the Tuesday morning rush hour.
The hulking suspect, flanked by two federal public defenders, said nothing beyond acknowledging the charges against him during the seven-minute session, one day after the most wanted criminal was apprehended in the East Village.
He wore a grey-brown prison outfit and a surgical mask, donning his glasses at one point to examine the complaint against him, and whispered briefly with his attorneys.
Winik described the 33 shots squeezed off before the suspect’s Glock 17 pistol misfired as “interrupting (the) morning commute in a way this city hasn’t seen in more than 20 years.” One police official said it was “a miracle” that no one was killed in the fusillade of bullets.
Defense attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg, speaking outside the courthouse, cautioned against a rush to judgment in the prosecution.
“What we do know is this: Yesterday Mr. James saw his photograph on the news,” she said. “He called Crime Stoppers to help. He told them where he was. Initial press and police reports in cases like this one are often inaccurate. Mr. James is entitled to a fair trial and we will ensure that he receives one.”
The suspect was taken into custody Wednesday shortly after his attempt to surrender ended with his cellphone going dead after dialing the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers line. A bystander noticed James on the street and flagged down a passing NYPD vehicle.
Federal prosecutors filed legal paperwork prior to the court appearance describing the bloodshed inside the northbound train, noting that James quickly ditched some of his clothing — including a reflective orange vest and hardhat — to make his escape after exiting the subway car.
“The defendant came to Brooklyn prepared with all of the weapons and tools he needed to carry out the mass attack: A Glock 17 pistol ... a container containing gasoline, a torch and fireworks with explosive power,” Winik wrote in a detention memo filed before the hearing.
Authorities had yet to reveal a motive in the mass shooting, but Winik noted the carnage could have been worse.
“He fired approximately 33 rounds in cold blood at terrified passengers who had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide,” she wrote. “Numerous passengers could have been killed.”
In a series of bizarre and rambling online video rants, James looked into a camera to explain his theory of “sensible violence” and detail his past mental health woes.
In one post quoted in court papers, he ranted that “the message to me is I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting motherf---ers.”
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