Cameras down, trains left to run and faulty police radio: How Brooklyn subway shooting suspect escaped NYPD

NYPD defends decision to keep subway trains running to next station after shooting, potentially aiding the gunman’s escape

Justin Vallejo
New York
,Megan Sheets
Wednesday 13 April 2022 19:20 BST
New York police confirm Brooklyn shooter was wearing ‘green construction-type vest’

New York City police have come under scrutiny for their handling of the Brooklyn subway shooting as several key details suggest multiple mishaps allowed the shooter to escape.

The suspected gunman, identified by authorities as 62-year-old Frank R James, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan, nearly 30 hours after he allegedly deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire inside the 36th Street station in Sunset Park on Tuesday morning.

Early in the investigation, Mayor Eric Adams revealed that the stations surveillance cameras experienced “some kind of malfunction” and thus did not capture any footage of the attack that left 10 shot and more than a dozen others injured.

“We are communicating with the MTA to find out was it throughout the entire station or if it was just one camera,” he told WCBS Radio.

A uniformed officer, meanwhile, reportedly approached that arrived at the scene said his radio was not working and asked passengers to call 911, according to The New York Times.

Late on Tuesday 12 April, police named Mr James as a person of interest in the case, though authorities were careful not to suggest that he carried out the shooting. As the search extended into Wednesday, Mayor Adams announced that Mr James is now considered a suspect.

Police said 33 shots were fired in the shooting, and announced a $50,000 reward for information about the crime.

Police found a Haul van with Arizona licence plates connected to the suspected shooter and called the bomb squad to investigate.

It came after police failed to locate the man in a sweep of subway tunnels, based on witness reports he may have jumped onto the tracks following the shooting.

Asked why trains were not shut down immediately in an effort to catch the suspect, NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, John Miller, told reporters: “That’s not the case”.

Anonymous NYPD sources earlier claimed the suspect’s escape may have been enabled by a police error, with Rolling Stone reporting that a local duty captain from Brooklyn South patrol reportedly did not freeze all trains in and out of the station, where trains on the N, R and D lines transfer.

The NYPD disputed the report, calling it “factually inaccurate” and that “speculation, especially in the middle of a crisis, is not helpful”.

But they appeared to confirm that trains were not stopped by adding: “The victims on the train relied on the subway moving to the next stop to get to safety, and seek help.”

On Tuesday afternoon, police recovered a gun, a high capacity magazine, and a backpack containing the fireworks and smoke devices, NBC News New York reported.

Law enforcement sources said the gun may have jammed during the attack, preventing further injury and possible death.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Mayor Eric Adams was getting an increased security detail as a precaution.

Officials say that the shooting took place on a Manhattan-bound N train just before 8.30am, and that the suspect was mubling to himself beforeputting on a gas mask and removing a cannister from a bag and the train began filling with smoke.

He then began shooting with a handgun, hitting people on the train and platform at the 36th Street station in Sunset Park.

Danny Mastrogiorgio, a Brooklyn resident, told The Independent’s Richard Hall on the scene that he saw several victims of the attack get off the subway at 25 Street station.

New York officials vowed to increase police presence on subways in the wake of the attack - however doubts were cast on the effectiveness of that plan when two men were stabbed in a Harlem station early Wednesday.

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