A gunman who wounded 10 subway riders when he indiscriminately sprayed a New York City railcar before sparking a massive citywide manhunt has been sentenced to 10 life prison terms.
Frank James, 64, donned a gas mask before he ignited smoke bombs and opened fire with a 9mm handgun on a crowded Manhattan-bound train as it pulled into Brooklyn’s Sunset Park station on 12 April 2022.
Disguised as a construction worker, James then went on the run for more than 24 hours before he was arrested in the East Village after phoning a police tip line to turn himself in.
He 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, and was sentenced to 10 concurrent life terms plus a consecutive 10 years in prison on Thursday.
Ten subway riders aged from 16 to 60 were wounded and 19 other suffered smoke inhalation and other injuries in the attack, which sparked mass panic on New York’s transit system.
“The fact that no one was killed by the defendant’s 32 gunshots can only be described as luck as opposed to the defendant’s intentional choice,” Brooklyn prosecutors wrote in a memo to US District Judge William Kuntz ahead of sentencing.
Prosecutors said James had spent years planning the attack to inflict “maximum damage” on rush-hour passengers, the Associated Press reported.
His attorneys claimed that James had suffered from severe mental illness and hadn’t intended to hurt anyone, as they asked for a sentence of 18 years.
Addressing the court, James said he had fallen through the cracks of the mental health system and social safety net programmes.
Several victims who had been present during the attack were also present in court for the sentencing.
In videos posted to the YouTube account Prophet of Truth 88, James made unhinged rants about racism, homelessess, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and police brutality.
In one video from July 2020, he appeared to size up other passengers on a subway car in what commenters suspected may have been a dry run for the April 2022 terror attack.