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Press Release

Statement By United States Attorney Breon Peace on the Sentencing of Subway Mass Shooter Frank James

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York

Good afternoon, today, justice has been served. 

During the morning rush hour on April 12th, 2022, Frank James unleashed a premeditated attack on unsuspecting New Yorkers he trapped in a subway car, firing 32 shots and seriously wounding 10 people.  For those acts, Frank James was sentenced to:

10 concurrent sentences of life in prison, plus an additional 10-year consecutive sentence.

The daily lifeblood of New York City is in its transit system – it’s found in the subway cars that are responsible for safely transporting New Yorkers every single day.  Frank James attempted to take that sense of safety away and inject fear and chaos into the heart of this City.  While he found temporary success in his plot, due to the resilience of New Yorkers and our relentless pursuit of justice, he ultimately failed.

On that horrific morning, when New Yorkers left their homes and boarded the N train, they had no idea that they were entering a death trap that Frank James orchestrated.  A trap that he had been planning to set for years during which he purchased smoke bombs, disguises, and guns.  In the weeks leading up to the attack, he scouted the location for his attack and completed multiple practice runs.  On the day of the attack, when the train was between stations, he put his evil plan into action.  He set off a smoke bomb, causing his victims to flee to the opposite end of the subway car.  They had nowhere else to run.  Then the defendant fired at them 32 times.  32 times in a closed subway car.  We can only imagine the terror the passengers in that car experienced.  Each time he pulled the trigger on his handgun, he made the choice to try to take a life.  And although fortunately no one died, sixteen (16) of those 32 bullets struck the bodies of the cornered, innocent victims. 

The victims – not just those who were wounded physically, but also those who witnessed this horrific act, and others who put themselves at risk to help, will live with these traumatic events for the rest of their lives.

From the victim who saved another passenger’s life by applying a makeshift tourniquet, to the victim who nearly lost her unborn child, to the victim who was shot three times and miraculously lived—dozens of people’s lives will forever be negatively affected because of the defendant’s heartless acts of terror.

The impact and fear were felt beyond the direct victims in that subway car and station that morning, the defendant terrorized the city at large.  Schools were on lockdown.  Parents rushed to pick up their kids and make sure that they were safe.  People feared taking the subway.  No one knew whether there would be additional attacks.  There was a city-wide manhunt for more than 24 hours, and the terror caused by the attack lingered until the defendant was caught.  And today Frank James was held accountable.

I want to thank our law enforcement partners who helped us secure justice in this case: the FBI, the NYPD, and the entire New York Joint Terrorism Task Force.  I also want to thank the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority which provided critical assistance along the way.  The excellent and determined work and cooperation of these agencies led to the identification and apprehension of Frank James.  Without the efforts of these agencies, we would not be standing here today.

I want to thank the outstanding prosecution team from my Office: Assistant United States Attorneys Sara Winik, Ellen Sise and Ian Richardson, paralegal specialist Magdalena Saint Surin, and the entire National Security & Cybercrime Section of my Office.  And I want to express appreciation to Attorney General Garland, Deputy Attorney General Monaco and our colleagues in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice for their support during the investigation of the attack and through the duration of this case.

Finally, to the people on that N train and in that station that morning, I want to thank you.  You helped each other get to safety and to medical care.  Your efforts assisted law enforcement in quickly identifying the defendant.  On a day when evil imperiled so many, you showed that this city is made of good people. That we look out for one another.  You are the fabric of this city; you are resilient.  And on a dark day of danger and fear, you showed strength and courage, you showed that you are the light. 

Today’s sentence sends a clear message to any would-be terrorist:  if you plan or commit an act of violence, this Office will aggressively pursue federal charges and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.

Now we will hear from FBI Special Agent in Charge Rob Kissane.


John Marzulli                                         
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated October 5, 2023

Domestic Terrorism
National Security