The 62-year-old man accused of setting off smoke bombs and opening fire on a Brooklyn subway train, shooting 10 people and leaving nearly 30 hurt, has a troubled history on both sides of the Hudson River.

Frank Robert James had three prior arrests in New Jersey in 1991, 1992 and 2007 for trespassing, larceny and disorderly conduct, according to The Independent.

NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig has said that James has a criminal history in New York City that goes back to the early 1990s.

James had nine prior arrests in New York, between 1992 and 1998, four of them for possession of burglary tools, two for theft of service, one for a criminal sex act, one for criminal tampering and one arrest for an outstanding New Jersey warrant, the same report said.

After spending time in Wisconsin, he arrived in Philadelphia on March 25, after stops in Pittsburgh, Indiana’s Fort Wayne and Newark, as reported by CNN.

Before his arrest, NYPD released an image of Frank James emerging from a subway
Before his arrest, NYPD released an image of Frank James emerging from a subway

He rented a U-Haul van in Pennsylvania, which he then drove through New Jersey into New York, onto the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and into Brooklyn, authorities said.

James has been connected to rambling, violent videos posted to a Youtube account that has since been suspended, according to multiple reports.

Among hundreds of posts as “Prophet of Truth 88,” James spoke at length about racism, homelessess, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and police brutality, as reported by Inside Headline.

James said he was a “victim” of New York’s mental health program, according to the same report, citing his online videos.

It quoted him as saying his experience as an in-patient at psychiatric facilities in the Bronx and New Jersey had “made me more dangerous."

There is no indication James had ties to terror organizations – international or otherwise – and the motive remains unclear, according to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace.

Federal prosecutors also referred to the YouTube videos that James made before the attack, in which he made various statements about the New York City subway system.

Among other things, James made statements about various conspiracy theories, Peace said, including: “And so the message to me is: I should have gotten a gun, and just started shooting motherf***ers.”

James faces a federal charge of conducting a violent attack on a mass transportation vehicle.

If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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