The man who set off a smoke bomb and opened fire on a crowded New York City subway train last year, shooting 10 people, is expected to learn his sentence Thursday.
Frank James pleaded guilty in January to 10 counts of committing a terrorist attack or other violence against a mass transportation vehicle and an additional firearms charge.
Prosecutors have asked the judge for a life sentence, while the shooter’s attorneys asked for 18 years.
James, who was 62 at the time of the April 2022 shooting, put on a gas mask, set off a smoke device and fired a handgun at least 33 times on a crowded subway train heading into Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, prosecutors have said.
“The smoke-emitting device caused panicked passengers to scramble to one end of the subway car, allowing James to more easily shoot at his victims,” prosecutors added.
Ten people were shot and wounded, and others were injured by the smoke. In total, 29 people were hospitalized and all survived.
“While it was not my intention to cause death, I was aware that a death or deaths could occur as a result of my discharging a firearm in such an enclosed space as a subway car,” James said when entering his guilty plea.
James walked away from the scene, setting off a citywide manhunt and anxiety about the safety of the city’s vital transit system. More than 24 hours after the shooting, James called in a tip to police, saying he was at a McDonalds on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and he was arrested on the street nearby.
Items left behind at the scene, including a credit card, a set of keys, a construction jacket and a gun – were tied back to James by investigators.
“On the morning of April 12, 2022, Frank James cold-bloodedly shot innocent New Yorkers traveling on the subway in Brooklyn, and brought terror to our great city,” Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a January statement.
James’ attorneys said he accepted responsibility by essentially turning himself in.
“A just sentence in this case will carefully balance the harm he caused with his age, his health, and the Bureau of Prisons’ notoriously inadequate medical care,” attorneys Mia Eisner-Grynberg and Amanda David said in a January statement.
Prior to the shooting, James posted videos on YouTube discussing violence and mass shootings. He also had a criminal history, including 12 prior arrests in New York City and New Jersey for charges including a criminal sex act, theft of service and disorderly conduct, an NYPD official said last year. Because James had no prior felony convictions, he was able to purchase a gun, the official said.