In court, Assistant United States Attorney Sara Winik called the attack “premeditated and carefully planned” as prosecutors asked James to remain behind bars. Defense attorneys told the federal judge that they consent to him remaining in custody at this time, but may seek bail again later. Lawyers further requested a psychiatric evaluation to determine James’ medical needs.
Dressed in a khaki prison uniform and blue surgical mask, James spoke only once, to acknowledge that he had seen the complaint. Outside the courthouse, his attorney, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, warned against rushing to judgment.
“We are all learning what happened on that train,” she said. “What we do know is this: Yesterday Mr. James saw his picture on the news. He called Crime Stoppers for help. He told them where he was. Initial press reports and police in cases like this are often inaccurate. Mr. James is entitled to a fair trial and we will ensure that he receives one.”
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The shooting left at least 29 people with injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to smoke inhalation. Four people remained hospitalized Thursday evening.
In recent weeks, videos have documented his journey from his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to the northeast – which he called a “danger zone”.
James had been arrested 12 times previously in New Jersey and New York for more than 30 years, police said. Still, he had never been convicted of a felony, making him eligible to legally buy a gun, police said. In recent years, he has worked for short periods for Amazon and for DoorDash, the companies said.
Firearm, U-Haul key and bank cards linked to James, complaint says
The shooting happened between the 59th Street station and the 36th Street station just before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The suspect, a burly black man wearing an orange reflective jacket, yellow hard hat and surgical mask, set off at least one smoke bomb and began shooting people with a Glock pistol, according to a criminal complaint. Witnesses saw the suspect wearing a gas mask, the complaint states.
The shooter fired at least 33 times and struck 10 people, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, officials said.
The smoke caused panic as passengers fled towards the end of the train, waiting for two minutes until the train arrived at the next station. When he finally arrived at the 36th Street station, passengers fled the carriage and smoke billowed from the doors, the video shows. Others with bloody wounds stumbled onto the platform, seeking medical attention.
Evidence led investigators to identify James as the shooter, police said.
Authorities found a bag containing a Glock handgun, a plastic container containing gasoline, a torch, a U-Haul key and several bank cards, as well as another bag containing fireworks, says the complaint.
James purchased the gun in Ohio in 2011, the bank cards bore James’s name, and the U-Haul key was connected to a pickup truck James had rented in Philadelphia, according to the complaint.
Authorities also tracked the purchase of a gas mask from James through an eBay account, two officials said.
Also, a neon construction jacket, which had been dumped on the subway platform, had a receipt for a storage unit in Philadelphia registered in James’s name, the complaint states.
Federal prosecutors believe he visited the warehouse full of ammunition and weapons the day before the attack, according to court documents. A search of the unit revealed additional ammunition and “a threaded 9mm pistol barrel which allows for the attachment of a silencer or suppressor”.
According to the complaint, law enforcement also executed a search warrant at a Philadelphia apartment, authorities say, that James rented for 15 days starting around March 28 and found “an empty magazine for a gun.” handgun, a Taser, a high capacity rifle magazine and a blue smoke cartridge.”
The U-Haul van was recovered by police near the Kings Highway tube station which serves the N line. Surveillance video from the hours before the shooting shows an individual – wearing a yellow helmet, an orange work jacket and wearing a backpack and a rolling bag – leaving the U-Haul van, the complaint states.
How he was caught
The video also shows some of James’ movements after the shooting. After allegedly opening fire, James got off at the 36th Street station, boarded an R train on the platform and got off at the 25th Street station, the complaint says.
Less than an hour later, he was spotted boarding the subway at the 7th Avenue and 9th Street station, about 1.5 miles away, said Essig, the NYPD official.
“We were able to shrink his world quickly. He had nowhere left to run,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Wednesday.
A witness who set up cameras outside a hardware store and alerted police told CNN he recognized James from police photos.
“I recognized him straight away, but at the same time I feel a kind of panic because he was carrying a backpack on his right side. It was heavy,” said Francisco Puebla. “When he passed right by us, he was just swearing, talking to himself and continuing to walk down the street.”
Jack Griffin, 17, said he was on a field trip with his high school photography class when he spotted James sitting on a bench on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Griffin submitted the tip to NYPD Crime Stoppers around 10:30 a.m. Although James was not captured for several hours, the NYPD later told him that the tip helped narrow his whereabouts, he said. declared.
“It’s crazy. I was looking for things to photograph and I found probably one of the most wanted people,” he said.
Separately, an NYPD official defended the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on Thursday, two days after officials found cameras at three subway stations were not working at the time of the shooting.
Other functioning cameras in the system served as “essential components” to help locate the suspect before and after the shooting, Deputy Intelligence and Counterterrorism Commissioner John Miller said in a statement.
“Reports that the lack of cameras on the station delayed the manhunt by several hours are unfair and misleading,” Miller said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Prosecutor Sara Winik’s last name.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe, Caroll Alvarado, Chris Boyette, Travis Caldwell, Alaa Elassar, Rob Frehse, Jason Hanna, Chris Hippensteel, Artemis Moshtaghian, Paul P. Murphy, Peter Nickeas, Sara Ashley O’Brien, Sharif Paget, Yon Pomrenze, Kara Scannell, Pervaiz Shallwani, Amir Vera, Elizabeth Wolfe, and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.