HomeArts & EntertainmentArtBrooklyn Subway Shooter Pleads Guilty to Terrorist Attack

Brooklyn Subway Shooter Pleads Guilty to Terrorist Attack

Frank James, the man charged with shooting 10 people aboard a New York City subway train during the morning rush hour commute in April, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to 11 counts related to the attack. At a hearing in Brooklyn federal court, James pleaded guilty to 10 counts of committing a terrorist attack or other violence against a mass transportation vehicle (one count for each person he shot) and one count of discharging a firearm in the attack.

“James’s crimes of violence have been met with swift justice,” said Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, when the plea was announced. “James’ admission of guilt to all eleven counts of the superseding indictment acknowledges the terror and pain he caused. This guilty plea is an important step towards holding James fully accountable and helping the victims of the defendant’s violence and our great city heal.”

In May 2022, the 62-year-old James had pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism and the use of a weapon in a violent crime at his arraignment.

In December, the Justice Department amended their indictment in order to prosecute James for each of his 10 victims separately, rather than collectively. This action — as well as the introduction of “more than a terabyte of new discovery” — forced James’ defense team to ask for an adjournment in the trial’s Feb. 27, 2023 start date, legal documents obtained by Rolling Stone revealed.

The government argued against the delay — “The government secured a superseding indictment, more than two months before the trial start date, does not warrant an adjournment” — and the judge denied the adjournment, but it ultimately did not matter: On Dec. 21, James’ lawyers sent a letter to the judge presiding over the trial saying that James intended to change his plea to guilty.

“Mr. James has advised undersigned counsel that he wishes to schedule a guilty plea to the superseding indictment,” Mia Eisner-Grynberg and Amanda L. David, James’ lawyers, wrote. “If the Court is available, we wish to proceed during the first week of January 2023.”

The shooting happened on April 12, 2022, with James — who wore a gas mask during the attack — deployed two smoke grenades aboard the N train before opening fire. While 10 people were shot in the attack, thankfully no one was killed. 

According to the original complaint, James traveled from Philadelphia in a rented U-Haul van to carry out the attack. New York City Police Department cameras allegedly captured James’ van as it crossed the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn in the early hours of that April morning. He parked near a subway entrance and donned a hard hat and orange vest, the complaint says. A couple of hours later, around 8:30 a.m., passengers started calling the police, reporting “multiple gunshots and explosions” on the subway.

In YouTube videos seemingly posted by James, he criticized New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ plans to improve safety on the subways. “He can’t stop no fucking crime in no subways,” James said in one video, where he talked about the number of exit and entry points along a subway line. “He may slow it down, but he ain’t stopping shit.” 


In other videos, James, who is Black, went on racist rants targeting Black, white, Latino, and Jewish people. In one video, he called 9/11 “the most beautiful day in the history of this country.” At James’ first court appearance April 13, his federal defenders requested a psychiatric evaluation. However, they said they were requesting it as medical treatment, not to assess James’ competency to stand trial.

UPDATE, Jan. 3, 5:10 p.m.: This story has been updated to include that James has pleaded guilty.

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