New York subway gunman sentenced to life in prison

A man who set off smoke bombs in a crowded New York subway carriage before shooting 10 people has been sentenced to 10 concurrent life terms in prison.

Frank James, 64, had pleaded guilty in January to 10 counts of terrorism, one for each person shot, in the 12 April, 2022 attack.

Prosecutors said he planned the attack for years to inflict maximum damage.

All the victims survived but “were left with long-lasting physical and psychological damage”.

According to reporters inside the courtroom on Thursday, one of the victims addressed James and said: “You did something terribly evil. Your mother would be ashamed.”

The gunman was given 10 life sentences for each person that was shot and wounded, plus 10 additional years on a weapons charge, by US District Court Judge WIlliam Kuntz.

The gunman set off a smoke bomb on the crowded subway and fired his handgun 32 times during the morning rush hour on a Manhattan-bound N train in April. 2022. He only stopped when the gun jammed.

Ten people were wounded in the gun attack and 13 others were injured from smoke-related injuries, according to police.

Following the sentencing, Breon Peace, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said “justice has been served”.

“The daily life blood of NYC is in its transit systems,” Mr Peace said, where commuters often “feel a sense of safety”.

“Frank James attempted to take that sense of safety away and inject fear and chaos into the heart of the city,” he said.

Following the shooting, nearby schools had been sent into lockdown amid widespread fear as police initiated a manhunt to catch James.

Nearly 30 hours after the shooting, James called in a tip on himself to police, saying he was at a McDonalds on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

He was eventually arrested without incident.

Lawyers for James had asked for an 18-year prison sentence, arguing that he suffered from a serious mental illness and that he did not intend to kill anyone.

“In a society where, sadly, we learn nearly every day that mass shooters who intend to kill readily achieve their goals, it is far more likely that James lacked that specific intent than that he simply failed in his mission,” his lawyer, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, wrote in a memo to court.

In court, James said the attacks he carried out were “cowardly acts of senseless violence”.

He also described his struggles with mental illness, and said the discrimination and prejudice he has faced had influenced his actions.

But Judge Kuntz dismissed his justifications.

“Yes, we have issues with guns and mental illness and racism,” the judge said, “but only one man took it upon himself to get on that subway car.”

Prosecutors said James had carefully planned the attack and scouted out the location weeks before and did practice runs. He also purchased smoke bombs and disguises ahead of time.

On the day of the attack, James disguised himself as a construction worker and launched the attack while the train was in between stations.

Mr Peace said the victims “had nowhere to run”.

“We can only imagine the terror that the passengers in that car experienced that morning,” he said.

While there were no fatalities, the attack was one of the most violent ever seen on New York’s subway system.

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