Brooklyn subway shooting suspect still at large: Live updates

Credit…Dakota Santiago for The New York Times

The sister of Frank R. James, the 62-year-old man suspected by police of opening fire on a crowded subway train on Tuesday, said in an interview Wednesday that her brother had “been alone all his life.” and that she had little contact with him.

The sister, Catherine James Robinson, confirmed several details about her brother, including that he was born in the Bronx in 1959, was 62 years old and often moved from town to town, never staying too long at the same place.

But in a brief phone interview, she said she only spoke to her brother on the phone occasionally and didn’t know what he did for work. They hadn’t seen each other face to face for a long time.

Still, she said she was “surprised” to see him named as a suspect in Tuesday’s shooting.

“I don’t think he would do anything like that,” she said. “It’s not in his nature to do something like that.”

When asked if her brother had sought mental health treatment, Ms Robinson said he was not mentally ill and bristled at the suggestion. “There were a lot of things that happened in our lives,” she said. In a second conversation, Ms Robinson added that their mother died when Mr James was 5.

She mentioned that Mr James had appeared on podcasts and on YouTube, apparently referring to the suspect’s prolific social media posts.

She said the last time she spoke to her brother on the phone was after their younger sister, Barbara Jean Grey, died of a heart attack several years earlier.

And she said Mr James did not fit the description police released on Tuesday of the suspect: a man about 5ft 5in and heavyset. She said her brother was over six feet tall and weighed about 300 pounds, and had back pain.

The police had little chance of locating Mr James. But he left plenty of evidence behind, partly in the videos he posted on YouTube and Facebook.

In the videos, between sectarian rants loosely tied to the news, Mr James described trips across the country in the weeks leading up to the attack – a schedule that appeared to end near the day of the shooting.

In a video posted March 18, Mr James said he had picked up a Penske van and planned to leave Milwaukee the next day. Two days later, shooting video from the road, he explained that he had tidied up his apartment, cleared out his storage and embarked on an early trip to Philadelphia, where he planned to move. Filming himself from the rented van, he said he was leaving Wisconsin, where he at least had an address.

“On the ride, I’m just thinking because I’m going back into the danger zone, so to speak, and it triggers a lot of negative thoughts, of course, because I’m suffering from – I have a bad case of post-traumatic le stress from everything I’ve been through,” he said in the video.

Credit…via the New York City Police Department

He stopped overnight in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he said he would reach Philadelphia on Tuesday. He said he would next stop in a city outside of Pittsburgh, then Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Mr James said in the video that he planned to spend six days in a hotel and then move to a short-term rental, which he called Airbnb. An Airbnb spokesperson, Christopher Nulty, said the company had investigated and confirmed that there were “no Airbnb accounts or bookings associated with any identifiable information currently available” about Mr James.

Once in Philadelphia, Mr James said he went to a storage room to put his things away. He then made a brief tour of a hotel room in New Jersey. “All my problems started in the stinky state of New Jersey,” he said, using an expletive.

On his own, Mr. James had housing problems. In a video posted on March 27, he said a heater blew where he was staying and he had to move to another room.

In this video, he said he planned to move into a short-term rental, where he planned to be until April 15. But in a video three days later, he circled around a short-term rental, which he says has moved in on March 29 and plans to call home for the next 15 days. While it is unclear whether Mr James was counting the day he moved in or not, the day of the shooting, April 12, was 15 days after March 29.

Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed to the research.


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