Frank James, accused NYC subway shooter, was charged with making threats in NJ in 1990s

Frank James, the man New York City police suspect of committing the brazen and bloody attack on a subway train Tuesday morning, had been arrested in Essex County, New Jersey, 27 years ago for making terroristic threats, according to the prosecutor's office.

At the time, James, now 62, was charged with making terroristic threats during an incident in Fairfield, stated Katherine Carter, a spokesperson for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

The NYPD confirmed James — who has been associated with addresses in Ohio, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin — has at least three prior charges in New Jersey, according to USA Today, as well as nine arrests in New York.

However, the Fairfield charge appears to be a fourth in the Garden State for James.

In the 1995 matter, James was convicted of the lesser charge of harassment and sentenced to probation for one year, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

Further details of the crime were not immediately available due to the age of the case, but a request for the affidavit of probable cause filed against James in the matter was submitted to the state's Administrative Office of the Courts and is pending a response.

On Tuesday, at least 10 people were shot and 19 others taken to hospitals for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to shrapnel wounds after a gunman opened fire on a Manhattan-bound N train arriving at a subway station in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood during rush hour.

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By late in the evening, police had identified James as a person of interest.

James phoned the NYPD on Wednesday and told them he was at a McDonald's in the city's East Village, police said. He was taken into custody nearby.

He faces a federal terrorism charge of targeting a mass transit system, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said. There is no indication James had ties to terror organizations – international or otherwise – and the motive remains unclear.

The shooter donned a gas mask before setting off two smoke canisters and firing 33 times with a Glock 9mm handgun, which was found in the subway car, police said.

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James allegedly purchased the firearm in Ohio in 2011 and had no felony convictions, New York City Chief of Detectives James Essig told USA Today.

A law enforcement official who was not authorized to comment publicly said authorities were reviewing several social media pages, including YouTube videos that appear to feature James ranting and making threatening comments.

James is no stranger to police. His nine prior arrests in New York span from 1992 to 1998, including four arrests for possession of burglary tools, once for a sex offense and twice for theft of service, Essig said, and was arrested once on a warrant out of New Jersey and again for criminal tampering.

In addition to the Fairfield arrest in 1995, James was also arrested in New Jersey in 1991, 1992 and 2007, on charges for trespass, larceny and disorderly conduct, Essig added.

Nicholas Katzban is a breaking news reporter for To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.


Twitter: @nicholaskatzban

This article originally appeared on NYC subway shooting suspect faced charges in NJ in 1995