Apr 14, 2022

NYPD Press Conference Subway Shooter in Custody 4/13/22 Transcript

NYPD Press Conference Subway Shooter in Custody 4/13/22 Transcript
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NYPD Press Conference Subway Shooter in Custody 4/13/22. Read the transcript here.

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John Miller: (00:00)
Okay. [crosstalk 00:00:03].

Speaker 2: (01:28)
We’re about 30 seconds out.

John Miller: (01:35)
Good afternoon. I’m John Miller, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter Terrorism of the New York City Police Department. With me, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, Chief of Detectives, James Essig, Breon Peace, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Mike Driscoll, the Assistant Director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, John DeVito, Special Agent in charge, ATF. These are the partners who have been working with us from the first moment of this incident, and we have important information to transmit today. First I would like to go to the Mayor, live from Gracie Mansion.

Eric Adams: (02:42)
My fellow New Yorkers. We got him. We got him. I cannot thank the men and women of the New York City Police Department enough as well as our federal agents, our state police, our first responders from the 911 operators to the various men and women from our medical professions. We got him. As said to New Yorkers, we are going to the people of this city and apprehend those who believe they can bring terror to everyday New Yorkers. And I want to thank everyday New Yorkers who called in tips, who responded, who helped those passengers who were injured, 33 shots. But less than 30 hours later, we are able to say we got him. Thank you, Commissioner for your leadership and a job well done.

John Miller: (03:54)
And now Police Commissioner of the City of New York, Keechant Sewell.

Keechant Sewell: (03:59)
Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you for being here. I am truly fortunate to stand here among these extraordinary investigators and federal partners to make this announcement. Moments ago, Frank Robert James was stopped on the street and arrested by members of the New York city Police Department. Officers, in response to a Crime Stoppers tip, stopped Mr. James at 1:42 PM at the corner of St. Mark’s Place and First Avenue in Manhattan. He was taken into custody without incident and has been transported to an NYPD facility. He will be charged with committing yesterday’s appalling crime in Brooklyn.

Keechant Sewell: (04:36)
I want to commend all of the investigators and analysts who took part in this all hands on deck investigation. Literally hundreds of NPYP detectives worked doggedly during the last 30 hours to bring this together. They did so in tandem with a vast number of our law enforcement partners, including those from the FBI, NYPD Joint terrorism Task Force, the ATF NYPD Crime Gun Intelligence Center and the regional task force led by the United States Marshall Service.

Keechant Sewell: (05:08)
We hope this arrest brings some solace to the victims and the people of the city of New York. We used every resource at our disposal to gather and process significant evidence that directly links Mr. James to the shooting. We were able to shrink his world quickly. There was nowhere left for him to run. I’d like to turn it over to chief James Essig for details of the investigation.

James Essig: (05:40)
Good afternoon, everybody. I’d like to update the public on yesterday’s incident on the subway in Brooklyn, on a Manhattan bound N train. Through the course of this investigation, we’ve developed additional information and evidence. Mr. Frank James, our person of interest, now became a wanted individual for yesterday’s horrific incident. Mr. James is a male, 62 years old. He is known to us and has ties in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City. His arrest history in New York is nine prior arrests dating from 1992 to 1998. Those include possession of burglary tools, four times, criminal sex act, theft of service, two times. He was arrested on a New Jersey warrant. He also has a criminal tampering. He has three arrests in New Jersey in 1991, 1992 and 2007 and they are for trespass, larceny and disorderly conduct. So yesterday we recovered video of him prior to the incident entering the Kings Highway Subway Station. He has the same black cart that he has later recovered on the crime scene. The pictures are to my right over here. This-

Speaker 2: (07:11)
We’ll make this available electronically after this.

James Essig: (07:16)
This station is three blocks from where we recovered the U-Haul truck that he rented in Philadelphia. The key to that truck was recovered at the crime scene. This jacket, the distinctive orange jacket, was also recovered as well as his construction helmet he was wearing and we recovered that in a garbage bin in transit. We believe, but this is still early in the investigation, that after firing his weapon 33 times at innocent New York City subway riders, Mr. James boarded an R train that had pulled into the station, went one stop up and exited at 25th Street Station. We also have a picture of that. The gun used in this, a nine millimeter Glock, which was recovered at this crime scene, was purchased by Mr. James in 2011 in Ohio. We tracked Mr. James and his last known whereabouts was Seventh avenue and Ninth Street in Park Slope entering the subway.

James Essig: (08:24)
Minutes ago, thankfully, NYPD patrol officers from the ninth precinct responded to St. Mark’s and First Avenue where they apprehended him without incident. This case was quickly solved using technology, video canvassing, and then getting that information out to the public. So I can’t speak highly enough of the partners we had, the FBI, Mike Driscoll, the ATF, John DeVito, US District Attorney from Eastern, Breon Peace and the coordination within the detective bureau. Tommy Gallate from intel, our Transit Bureau, our Patrol Services Bureau, phenomenal job, less than 30 hours later to arrest this individual. So with that, I’d like to turn it over to Breon Peace.

Breon Peace: (09:26)
Good afternoon. Thank you. Yesterday was a dark day for all of us, but the bright spots of the incredible heroism of our fellow New Yorkers helping each other in a time of crisis, the quick response by our first responders and the hard work by all of our law enforcement partners that has been ongoing is truly a bright spot here. Today, Frank James has been charged by complaint in Brooklyn Federal Court with one count of violating 18 USC sections, 1992 A7 and B1 which prohibits terrorists and other violent attacks against mass transportation systems. He has been apprehended. He will be arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn. And if convicted, he will face a sentence of up to life imprisonment.

Breon Peace: (10:21)
My office is prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on April 12th, 2022 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn in the Eastern District of New York, Frank James did knowingly and without lawful authority and permission commit an act including the use of a dangerous weapon with the intent to cause death and serious bodily injury to passengers and MTA employees on the New York City subway system. The government will prove among other things that James traveled across state lines in order to commit the offense and transported materials across the state line in aid of the commission of the offense. We, in the Eastern District of New York US Attorney’s Office are working closely with all of our law enforcement partners, the FBI, NYPD, ATF, US Marshall Service and others, including the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. And my office and our law enforcement partners will use every tool at our disposal to bring this individual justice and bring justice to New Yorkers and restore safety and peace of mind to all and will continue to do so as this case proceeds. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (11:39)

Mike Driscoll: (11:44)
Good afternoon and thank you all for being here today. As Mr. Peace just discussed, Mr. James is now facing a federal charge for his actions, a terrorist attack on mass transit. We have two ways that you can get in contact with us, because I want to be very clear that this is still an ongoing investigation. If you have additional information regarding Mr. James’s activity, or if you have digital information, please reach out to us. Contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or you can provide digital media through fbi.gov/brooklynshooting. We need to hear from you so we can fully understand all the events that have occurred over the last 30 hours. It’s crucial that we receive the assistance of the public as we piece this case together. There has been some reports that FBI holdings to date had a tie to Mr. James. I want to be very clear that to date we have found no record of an investigation of Frank R. James by an FBI office before the shooting yesterday. Reports that FBI’s New Mexico field office previously investigated him are inaccurate.

Mike Driscoll: (12:56)
I want to thank our partners in this case, the NYPD, the ATF, the US Marshals and the US Attorney’s Office and all the members of the FBI NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force. We’ve had such a tremendous response from all of our partners in this case that have led us to this moment now. I also want to take a quick moment to highlight the work of the JTTF. I’m fortunate I get to work with them every day. It’s truly an outstanding group of people led by SAC Keri Farley, who spearheaded this investigation. They’ve done an outstanding job on this as they have every time New York has faced a threat of this nature. So thank you. And I’d like to turn it over to John DeVito from the ATF.

John Devito: (13:43)
Good afternoon, everyone. Again, my name is John DeVito. I’m the Special Agent in Charge for ATF here in New York State. One of the key points that ADIC Driscoll pointed out was that we could not have done this without the public’s help. First, let me say our thoughts and prayers and actions for the past two days have been with the victims as well as all New Yorkers. The men and women of ATF have been working side by side with NYPD, FDNY, the Marshalls and FBI to solve this heinous crime, which we have.

John Devito: (14:16)
Immediately after the attack, New York City Crime Gun Intelligence Center or CGIC, which is a unit comprised of highly skilled analyst investigators from ATF, NYPD, as well as a myriad of other vital partners whose sole purpose is to collect, analyze, and disseminate actual intelligence regarding gun violence. Just imagine a team of dedicated professional exploiting every nugget of intel from gun violence, the firearms, and then weaponizing that information to use it against the people that are terrorizing our communities. That’s your CGIC.

John Devito: (14:52)
The timeline on this gun’s life spans 16 years in five states. And I’m very proud to say that late yesterday evening, about 12 hours after this attack, ATF agents were able to close the loop on that extensive time span and determined that Frank James purchased said firearm from a federal firearm’s licensee in Ohio in 2011. So essentially we tied that gun utilizing the shooting to our target, and now we have our target in custody. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (15:23)
Okay. We’re going to be in that we have told you almost everything we have to say, able to answer some very limited questions. Kayman.

Kayman: (15:34)
You tell us a about the Crime Stoppers tips. There are some reports that he called himself in. Is that true?

Keechant Sewell: (15:37)
There was a person who called Crime Stoppers. We’re reviewing who exactly made that call.

Speaker 2: (15:42)
And Rocco?

Rocco: (15:44)
Commissioner, we’ll repeat that from 911. He alludes in one of his videos to yesterday’s date. Does that date have any significance? And is it clear yet what the motivation was for the shooting?

James Essig: (15:59)
I think first and foremost, we were looking to get this guy off the street before he did any more, brought anymore carnage to the city. As to the investigation into the motive and to look and scour his social media, that’s still part of the ongoing investigation. But again, first and foremost, we wanted to take him off the street. The investigation is continuing into the motive into his social media postings.

Speaker 2: (16:28)

Bloomberg: (16:29)
You said Mr. James walked into a Parks Slope subway station, what time was that and what was he doing in between then and when you guys caught him?

James Essig: (16:38)
That was 9:15 yesterday. So the incident occurs at 8:24. So he exited to 25th Street station house shortly after 8:24, the R train pulls in, we catch him next going into Park Slope on Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street at 9:15 and then we grab him today. But we had literally hundreds of detectives out scouring video throughout the crime scene and beyond.

Bloomberg: (17:13)
And so this is 9:00 AM?

James Essig: (17:14)
Excuse me?

Bloomberg: (17:19)
9:00 that he goes into Park Slope?

James Essig: (17:19)
Yes. That was him. Yesterday at 9:15.

Speaker 2: (17:20)
All right. Mark.

Mark: (17:22)
And do you have any idea where he was previously today? Any ideas on his whereabouts? Was he contracted any way? Did he say anything when he was arrested?

James Essig: (17:31)
No. His arrest was just literally minutes ago. So we just arrived at the precinct shortly. As to his whereabouts, that’s part of the investigation. Detectives are out going through video canvases and we’re going to backtrack that. And that will take literally weeks.

Speaker 2: (17:52)

Katie: (17:56)
A two part question. The first is, did the NYPD, previous to yesterday’s attack, have any complaints or did they look into any of the cameras being out? Not just at 36th street, but at 45th and 25th? And additionally, is there any indication that Mr. James was going to do any more attacks in New York city?

Speaker 2: (18:10)
So we’ll get back down the cameras. [inaudible 00:18:14].

James Essig: (18:14)
Yeah. As far as him doing any more attacks, that’s again, that’s part of the investigation. Our main focus was to take him off the street immediately.

Katie: (18:24)
And do you know how… I’m sorry.

James Essig: (18:26)
Go ahead.

Katie: (18:27)
Do you know how he purchased the gun if he had a criminal record?

James Essig: (18:30)
You, you can’t have a felony conviction to purchase the gun. So he had no felony convictions.

Speaker 2: (18:36)
Okay. New York One.

Emily: (18:38)
Emily. How are you?

James Essig: (18:39)

Emily: (18:39)
Have the Mayor’s security detail been returned to its typical size and scope?

Speaker 2: (18:47)
So we’re not going to discuss that. Julia Fox.

Julia Fox: (18:47)
Yes. Can you take us from the Crime Stopper tip to the arrest? What happened in between? How was he located?

James Essig: (18:54)
The Crime Stopper tip today?

Julia Fox: (18:56)

James Essig: (18:58)
What’s that? Yeah. Go ahead.

Speaker 16: (19:00)
Hi, Julia. Good afternoon. Crime Stopper tip comes in, reports that the male is in the McDonald’s on Sixth Street and First Avenue in the Ninth Precinct down on the Lower East Side in the East Village. Officers respond to the McDonald’s. He’s not in the McDonald’s. They start driving around the neighborhood, looking for him. They see him on the corner of St. Marks and First and they take him into custody. No incident and take him into custody.

Julia Fox: (19:23)
Will NYPD do an audit of cameras in subway stations just to make sure they’re all working in the future so it would be easier to catch a person who does something like this?

Speaker 16: (19:31)
Yeah. So the camera systems in the subway system are not NYPD cameras. They’re owned and maintained by the MTA. We have access to them. We do regularly look and see which cameras are working and which ones are not. But the responsibility for those cameras belongs to the MTA.

Speaker 2: (19:45)

Tommy: (19:45)
Are you going to make the officers who made the apprehension available? Are you going to identify them [inaudible 00:19:53]?

Keechant Sewell: (19:55)
Not at this time. If we do, we’ll let you know.

Speaker 2: (19:56)
Ron Helton.

Ron Helton: (20:01)
For Chief Essig. Chief, in any interviews that took place throughout the day yesterday with any of the surviving victims as well as people who were on the train, have you been able to learn anything about what he said or did on the train that yields a little bit more about his motivation, about what he intended to do?

James Essig: (20:21)
We have witnesses on the train who said he was sitting in the back corner of the second car and he popped the smoke grenade. And we have one witness who says, “What did you do?” He goes, “Oops,” and then he pops the two, brandishes the firearm and fires 33 times. We are in the process. And we are asking for anybody’s help who was on that subway train or on that platform to reach out to the Crime Stoppers at 1-800-877-TIPS with any information. We’re still looking for witnesses and anybody who has information who was on the scene.

Speaker 2: (21:05)
Okay. New York Times.

Speaker 19: (21:07)
Hi. Can you tell us anything more about the Glock that this guy used? We hard heard initially that it had jammed. I know from what experts say that Glocks aren’t supposed to do, that it’s kind of one of the selling points of [inaudible 00:21:20] more about the facts of the case?

James Essig: (21:23)
Well, our crime scene is still processing that scene. It goes to the lab and they’ll give us a report. It’s still very early in the investigation for that.

Speaker 2: (21:33)
All right. Tony.

Tony: (21:36)
One for the state attorney [inaudible 00:21:40].

Speaker 2: (21:36)

Tony: (21:40)
The statute it’s being held under, that requires no nexus to any foreign terrorism. So this is, of its own, it’s a discreet charge?

Breon Peace: (21:51)
That’s correct. The statute is titled terrorism and other violent attacks in mass transportation. So there’s a federal interest, of course, in protecting mass transportation hubs and infrastructure and so that’s the jurisdiction. But we’re not going to comment further on it. We’re still investigating the motive and things like that, so I can’t comment further.

James Essig: (22:12)
All right. Last question to Juliet.

Juliet: (22:15)
Yes. Can you talk about his contact with social services or if he had here in New York?

Keechant Sewell: (22:23)
That’s going to be part of the investigation as well. So we are not able to speak to that at this moment.

Juliet: (22:27)
So after he got arrested in the nineties and then did he disappear? Was he not in New York City anymore?

Keechant Sewell: (22:34)
That’s part of our investigation as well, Juliet. Thank you.

Speaker 22: (22:38)
Could I have one more question for News 12?

John Miller: (22:38)
Given the last, last question.

Speaker 22: (22:42)
Thank you. I’m wondering, do we have any motive in terms of Sunset Park? Why Sunset Park or was it random?

Speaker 2: (22:50)
No idea. So just to close, we also want to acknowledge our partners, sometimes jousting partners in the media, for putting all these pictures out, for spreading this story from the time we did the press conference yesterday. That was a critical effect on raising the kind of public awareness that, as the commissioner said, was able to give him very few choices in terms of where to go. So we appreciate your efforts as well. Thank you very much.

Keechant Sewell: (23:20)
Thank you.

Speaker 22: (23:24)
You’re welcome.

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