NEW YORK — The accused Brooklyn subway shooter was held without bail Thursday afternoon at a brief hearing in Brooklyn federal court after prosecutors argued for his continued imprisonment in the “premeditated and carefully planned” rampage aboard a crowded N train.
Suspect Frank James, flanked by two federal public defenders, said nothing beyond acknowledging the charges against him during the seven-minute session one day after he was taken into custody.
“The defendant’s attack was premeditated, it was carefully planned, and it caused terror among the victims and our entire city,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Winik before the hearing ended with the order from Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann. “The defendant’s mere presence outside federal custody presents a serious risk of danger to the community, and he should be detained pending trial.
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“The defendant, terrifyingly, opened fire on passengers on a crowded subway train, interrupting their morning commute in a way this city hasn’t seen in more than 20 years.”
Defense attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg, speaking outside the courthouse, cautioned against a rush to judgment in the prosecution.
“What we do know is this: Yesterday Mr. James saw his photograph on the news,” she said. “He called Crime Stoppers to help. He told them where he was. Initial press and police reports in cases like this one are often inaccurate. Mr. James is entitled to a fair trial and we will ensure that he receives one.”
Federal prosecutors filed legal paperwork prior to the court appearance describing the bloodshed inside the northbound train during Tuesday’s rush hour, noting that James, 62, quickly ditched some of his clothing — including a reflective orange vest and hardhat — to make his escape after exiting the subway car.
“The defendant came to Brooklyn prepared with all of the weapons and tools he needed to carry out the mass attack: A Glock 17 pistol ... a container containing gasoline, a torch and fireworks with explosive power,” Winik wrote in a detention memo filed before the hearing.
James was taken into custody Wednesday on an East Village street shortly after his attempt to surrender ended with his cellphone going dead after dialing the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers line.
Authorities had yet to reveal a motive in the mass shooting; 10 people were shot and another 13 injured before James’ gun jammed, they said. But Winik noted the carnage could have been worse.
“He fired approximately 33 rounds in cold blood at terrified passengers who had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide,” she wrote. “Numerous passengers could have been killed.”
In a series of bizarre and rambling online video rants, James looked into a camera to explain his theory of “sensible violence” and detail his past mental health woes.
In one post quoted in court papers, he ranted that “the message to me is I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting motherf---ers.”
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