MTA was warned about faulty subway cameras for years before Brooklyn shooting

Mayor Eric Adams admitted there was a ‘malfunction’ on the entire camera system in the 36 Street subway station meaning suspected gunman Frank Robert James was not captured on footage at the scene

Rachel Sharp
Wednesday 13 April 2022 17:53 BST
Brooklyn shooting 'person of interest' rants at New York mayor Eric Adams

The MTA had received multiple warnings about faulty subway cameras years before the system failed to capture surveillance footage of the perpetrator of Tuesday’s mass shooting in Brooklyn.

State officials found in two separate inspections in 2018 and 2019 that the subway system’s cameras were at risk of malfunctions, according to CBS News.

The inspections also found that the MTA failed to carry out preventative maintenance and repairs on thousands of the system’s cameras in a timely manner.

Following the inspections, the MTA said that it was taking “aggressive” steps to rectify the issues, CBS reported.

However, on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams admitted that there was a “malfunction” on the entire camera system in the 36 Street subway station in Sunset Park where suspected gunman Frank Robert James shot 10 people and left around 19 more wounded.

This hampered the investigation as there was no surveillance footage of the suspect at the scene of the crime.

As a result, it was many hours before Mr James was identified and his photo was finally released to the public.

On Wednesday, MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber was grilled byCBS Mornings’ Gayle Kingover on why the camera systems in the 36 Street station were not working during Tuesday’s rush hour attack.

“How do you explain on this particular train that the cameras were not working?” she asked, questioning if it was “a fluke”.

“I think in one location by the turnstile there was apparently a server problem, which they had been working on the day before,” he replied.

“But the bigger issue is there’s so much video evidence from all of the stations on this line that there are images of this fellow that are going to be found.”

The MTA boss insisted that there are “600 cameras on this one line in Brooklyn, 2,500 cameras the length of the line” and that there is a lot of video for investigators to comb through to track down the suspect.

“So the cops have been looking overnight at all of the stations – where he got on, where he might have gotten off. It’s an enormous range of video,” he said.

“It’s one of the things we’ve done to make the system safer. We went from 30 percent camera coverage of our 472 stations to 100 percent camera coverage.

“So we’ve got a lot of video for the cops to look at in that network.”

Surveillance footage believed to show the suspect heading to carry out the attack
Surveillance footage believed to show the suspect heading to carry out the attack (CBS2)

Mr Lieber told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday that investigators had located video of Mr James entering the subway system ahead of Tuesday’s attack.

Police said that Mr James put on a gas mask and hurled a gas canister inside the subway carriage of an N train headed for Manhattan at around 8.24am on Tuesday morning.

As the carriage filled with smoke between 25 Street and 36 Street, the suspect opened fire with a handgun on passengers.

Ten people were shot before terrified New Yorkers clambered out of the train at 36 Street and ran to safety.

Around 19 others were treated in hospital for various other injuries.

Mr James, a 61-year-old Black man with ties to New York City, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Ohio, remains on the run more than 24 hours on from the horror attack.

He was identified after police found the keys to a U-Haul van in a bag of fireworks and gun magazines left at the scene. The van was allegedly rented by Mr James.

Since then, disturbing YouTube videos have come to light showing the suspect ranting about several topics including Mayor Adams, gun violence and mass shootings.

He was initially described as a person of interest before being named as a suspect on Wednesday morning.

Following the attack – and with the suspect still on the run – Mr Adams announced that the number of police officers patrolling the city’s subway system was being doubled.

Terrified people run from the subway car following the attack
Terrified people run from the subway car following the attack (AP)

The mayor’s own security was also stepped up over the suspect’s video tirades.

New York City’s subway system has been rocked by a spate of violent attacks in recent months.

In January, Michelle Alyssa Go was killed after being pushed in front of a subway train at Times Square station by a homeless man.

The following month, a 57-year-old woman was kicked down the stairs and repeatedly struck in the head with a hammer before being robbed at the Queens Plaza subway station in Long Island City.

The spate of attacks raises more questions around why the surveillance cameras were not working on Tuesday morning.

Other questions are also being asked of the official response to the mass shooting as the subway system was reportedly not shut down in the immediate aftermath.

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