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Frank James held without bail on federal terror-related charges after Brooklyn subway shooting

Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James held without bail 02:30

NEW YORK -- A federal judge ordered Frank James, the man accused of carrying out the Brooklyn subway shooting that injured nearly two dozen people, to be held without bail on Thursday. Prosecutors said anything less would endanger the people of New York.

James, 62, was officially charged with a federal count of enacting terror, two days after the worst terror attack on the New York City Subway. His court appearance took about six minutes.

James answered "yes" when the magistrate judge asked him whether he understood the charge against him but did not enter a plea. He also waived his right to a preliminary hearing, which usually happens when evidence against a defendant is overwhelming, CBS2's Jessica Moore reported.

In court, attorneys for James requested a psychiatric evaluation and magnesium tablets for his leg cramps. They also confirmed reports about how police ultimately were able to arrest him.

Prosecutors said James boarded a Manhattan-bound N train in Sunset Park, detonated smoke bombs and opened fire at the height of Tuesday morning's commute.

Ten people were shot and approximately 20 more were hurt, according to the newly-unsealed federal complaint. Five victims remained hospitalized Thursday. No one was killed in the attack.

"What happened in the New York City Subway system on Tuesday was a tragedy. It is a blessing that it was not worse. We are all still learning about what happened on that train and we caution against a rush to judgement," defense attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg said.

According to investigators, James crossed state lines with a bag of weapons, including hatchets, pepper spray, fireworks and gas canisters. We now know James did a practice run the day before the attack to make sure the weapons worked properly, and because of that, prosecutors say his attack was premeditated and constituted an act of terror.

If convicted, James could spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors have not publicly identified James' motive.

"The statute is titled, 'terrorism and other violent attacks in mass transportation,'" United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said.

Brooklyn subway shooting suspect Frank James expected to face judge 03:30

In the criminal complaint, prosecutors carefully laid out a timeline leading up to the attack.

Surveillance cameras caught James allegedly driving a rented U-Haul van over the Verrazano Bridge early Tuesday morning, then parking it in Gravesend -- two blocks from the N train station where police said he boarded.

Video shows James making his way to the subway station before the horrifying attack, according to police.

"He was shooting, boom, boom. I was like, this guy's crazy," subway rider Fatim Gjeloshi said. 

Police said it appears someone tried to deface the serial number on the gun James was carrying.

"What we do know is this. Yesterday, Mr. James saw his photograph on the news. He called Crime Stoppers to help. He told them where he was," Eisner-Grynberg said.

Police sources told CBS2 that, on the call, James said, "I think I'm the guy you're looking for."

How Brooklyn subway shooting suspect came into custody 02:15

After the call, police tracked James to a McDonald's in the East Village and arrested him a few blocks away. A worker kept tabs on him until officers arrived.

As CBS2's Cory James reports, Jack Griffin says he helped bring police to the suspect.

"I saw Frank James sitting down at that bench over there ... so I got out my camera and I quickly took a photo of the street," Griffin said.

James was then taken to FBI headquarters and put into federal custody.

James had a lot to say on social media and in YouTube videos prior to the attack. He posted hundreds of rants about Black, white, Hispanic and Asian people, celebrities and politicians, including Mayor Eric Adams and his policies on subway crime.

James had described New York as "the source of all my troubles," and one video seemed to foreshadow the attack.

"Out in Brooklyn, the old lady got hit in the head with a hammer. You can't stop that. That means you have to have a policeman in every station, and that's just not possible," James said.

YouTube has disabled the channel.

James was born in 1959 and raised in the Bronx, but his last known residence here was in 2003. Until a few weeks ago, he lived in a multi-family building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where neighbors described him as unfriendly.

"When I say hi, it's like a grunt," neighbor Keliah Miller said.

James' sister told The New York Times he was a loner who moved often. One of his cousins told CBS2 most family members had little contact with him. 

"Something must have happened maybe, I don't know," she said. "It's unbelievable."

James will likely remain in federal custody until his trial, given his proclivity to run from police, sources said.

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