The 62-year-old man accused of shooting 10 people on the New York subway was placed in pre-trial detention Thursday after being arraigned on terror charges related to attacking a mass transit system.
Frank James is alleged to have detonated two smoke canisters on the train as it pulled into a Brooklyn station before firing into the crowd in an incident that left 23 people injured but caused no deaths.
During a brief hearing, James told the court that he understood the charges, while his lawyers requested a psychiatric evaluation.
The judge ordered James to remain in custody after prosecuting attorney Sara Winik said that “the defendant, terrifyingly, opened fire on passengers on a crowded subway train.”
“The defendant’s attack was premeditated, it was carefully planned, and it caused terror among the victims and our entire city,” she said.
James fled after the scene, triggering a day-long manhunt until he was detained by officers on a Manhattan street.
“What happened in the New York subway system Tuesday was a tragedy. It’s a blessing that it was not worse,” his lawyer Mia Eisner-Grynberg told the federal court in Brooklyn.
She highlighted that James was arrested peacefully after calling a tip line himself, adding that “initial press and police reports in cases like this are often inaccurate. Mr. James is entitled to a fair trial.”
“Mr. James saw his photograph on the news, he called Crime Stoppers to help, he told them where he was,” she said.
Many New Yorkers were on edge while James was a fugitive, and the $50,000 police reward for finding him sparked a range of competing claims — despite James’ apparent role in his own arrest.
Zack Tahhan, a 21-year-old Syrian security camera technician, was quickly crowned a hero on social media after telling reporters he had spotted the suspect, followed him and alerted a passing police car.
But the New York Times said a hardware store manager and a portrait painter also claimed to have spotted James and notified police just before his arrest.
US district attorneys have said James could face a life sentence if convicted of violating a federal prohibition on “terrorist and other violent attacks against mass transportation systems.”
Police recovered a Glock 17 nine-millimeter handgun, three additional ammunition magazines and a hatchet from the site of the attack.
James had posted several videos of himself on YouTube delivering long, sometimes aggressive political tirades, as well as criticizing New York’s mayor.
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