Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James may have ‘test run’ smoke grenades at New York airfield: report

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Accused Brooklyn subway terrorist Frank James may have conducted a test run with smoke grenades at the nearby New York airfield before Tuesday morning’s shooting, according to a report.

In the hours after James was arrested in Manhattan’s East Village Wednesday afternoon, police received a tip that a white pickup truck, possibly a U-Haul, crashed at Floyd Bennett Field, an airfield in the Marine Park neighborhood, early Tuesday of Brooklyn, Jamaica Bay had been sighted, WNBC reported, citing three unnamed law enforcement agencies.

The tipster added that someone may have been testing smoke grenades in a nearby wooded area around the same time.

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As a result, members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD Crime Scene Unit were at the airfield Wednesday night to recover smoke grenade remains, WNBC’s report said. Investigators stressed to the outlet that it was far too early to determine if there was a connection to James or if the subway attack suspect conducted a smoke grenade test run at the airfield.

Subway shooter suspect Frank R. James, 62, is taken away from a New York police station on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Subway shooter suspect Frank R. James, 62, is taken away from a New York police station on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Seth Little)

NYPD said James donned a gas mask, detonated a smoke grenade and fired it on an N train bound for Manhattan and at the 36 St. subway station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, around 8:24 a.m. Tuesday. At least 29 people were injured, including 10 with gunshot wounds. Five people were in critical condition after the attack. No deaths were reported.

James was taken into custody in the East Village around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, ending a nearly 30-hour manhunt. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Brooklyn Thursday on charges of terrorist or other violent attacks on mass transit systems and will be sentenced to up to life in prison, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.

Among the calls that Crime Stoppers received was a man claiming to be James himself.

“I think you’re looking for me,” the caller said, according to WNBC. “I see my picture all over the news and I’ll be near this McDonald’s.”

Investigators said James stayed in an Airbnb in Philadelphia, rented a U-Haul the day before the attack, and drove to New York City around 4 a.m. Tuesday, the New York Post reported.

Surveillance cameras at the 36th St. station were not working at the time of the shooting, but graphic cellphone images and video showed smoke and pools of blood as people lay on the platform.

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Investigators believe James was mingling with commuters and riding an R train to the nearest stop on 25th Street, where the cameras were also not working at the time. James was then placed at the Ninth Street and Seventh Avenue subway station in Park Slope around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, less than an hour after the attack, NYPD detective chief James Essig said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated: April 14, 2022 — 3:59 pm

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