NEW YORK –
A man accused of wounding 10 people in a mass shooting on a crowded subway train in Brooklyn told his lawyers he’d like to plead guilty next month to all of the charges against him, including terrorism offences.
Frank James, 63, wants to plead guilty the first week of January, the attorneys said Wednesday in a letter to U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II. They didn’t explain why he wanted to admit his guilt.
James has been held in a federal jail in Brooklyn since his arrest in the April 12 attack, which stunned the city and set off a massive 30-hour manhunt that ended when the gunman called the police on himself.
The shooter set off a pair of smoke grenades and then scattered a barrage of random shots inside the train, bloodying passengers as it moved between stations.
In the chaos, authorities said James slipped on to another train and escaped. But he left behind the gun, ammunition clips, a hatchet, gasoline and a key to a rented van. That key and surveillance cameras in the subway system helped authorities identify James, who was recorded entering the system wearing a construction worker’s garb and a yellow hard hat.
Before the shooting, James, who is Black, had posted dozens of videos online in which he ranted about race, violence and his struggles with mental illness. In some he decried the treatment of Black people and talked about how he was so frustrated, “I should have gotten a gun and just started shooting.”
A revised indictment last week charged James with 10 counts of staging a terrorist attack against a mass transportation system.
The revelation by James’ lawyers that he intended to plead guilty came just a day after the defence team requested an adjournment of a trial set for late February. The lawyers said extra time was needed to review evidence and because of the revised indictment.
Prosecutors opposed a delay to the trial, saying gunshot victims deserved to see justice carried out without reasonable delay.
A spokesperson for the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn declined comment.