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Brooklyn subway shooting: Sources say cameras inside 36th Street station failed to transmit to NYPD, MTA

Officials: Security cameras at Brooklyn station weren't transmitting video at time of attack 02:32

NEW YORK -- The manhunt for the gunman whose reign of terror on an N train in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning that traumatized New Yorkers is being hampered by the fact that, according to sources, none of the security cameras were transmitting at the station involved in the incident.

Was is just a simple coincidence or something more sinister? That's what sources say law enforcement wants to know as it hunts for the gunman responsible for shooting and injuring so many New Yorkers.

"We know that there were three stations that the video wasn't working. We're still investigating that to see why or how," NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told CBS2's Marcia Kramer there is no evidence at this time of sabotage.

"The preliminary review stated that at that particular station there appeared to have been some for of malfunction with the camera system. That is still under investigation," Mayor Eric Adams said. "We're communicating with the MTA to find out was it through the entire station or just one camera."

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Adams was talking about the fact that none of the security cameras inside the 36th Street station were transmitting pictures as the train carrying the suspect entered the station. While he was on the train, the suspect reportedly put on a gas mask and started firing shots that hit people on the train and on the platform.

Police have identified Frank R. James, 62, of Philadelphia as a suspect in the case.

Cameras at the token booth and on the platform might have captured the scene and helped police identify the man, who NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell described as "being reported as a male Black, approximately 5-foot-5 with a heavy build. He was wearing a green construction-type vest and a hooded sweatshirt. The color was grey."

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Sources told Kramer the cameras, themselves, were working. It was the connection that sends the camera feed to both the NYPD and MTA security centers that was apparently on the fritz.

And here's another possible coincidence. Sources told CBS2 that the cameras at the two subway stops on either side of the 36th Street station -- 45th Street and 25th Street -- also had the same connectivity problem.

The MTA has approximately 10,000 cameras at its 472 subway stations. All were operational except at those three stations, sources said.

MTA Chair Janno Lieber says authorities are looking at the other cameras on the N line, about 600 in all, for clues.

"The cops today were looking at cameras up and down the system because they wanted to see where this criminal had entered the system as well as where he may have left," he said.

And this isn't the only time the MTA has had camera problems. A 2018 audit by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned that the agency had pervasive problems with "preventative maintenance" of its camera system.

Auditors reviewed 223 cameras at 10 stations and found that 1,328 of the 4,219 expected maintenance visits were simply not done. That's 31 percent. 

Officials told CBS2 that law enforcement officials are looking at the camera feeds from all the stops on the N train, starting at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, where the train started, to see if they can see the suspect entering or leaving the system.

"We're going to examine the other stations because the camera system is an important part of our anti-violence and terrorist operation as well," Adams said.

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