Alleged Brooklyn subway gunman Frank R. James pleaded not guilty to federal terrorism charges Friday stemming from the April shooting that wounded 10 passengers and caused injury to nearly two dozen more in a crowded morning rush-hour N train.
In a 25-minute proceeding before Brooklyn federal district court Judge William F. Kuntz ll, the 62-year-old James answered "not guilty" when asked how he pleaded to the two-count federal indictment handed down earlier this month.
Kuntz asked James a number of questions in advance of the plea to see if he understood the indictment and the nature of the court proceedings. The Bronx-born James indicated he knew what was going on in court and had previously read the indictment, which Kuntz also read aloud in its entirety.
James is charged with terrorism in a mass transit system and also using a firearm, a 9mm-Glock handgun, which police said he fired at least 33 times, to carry out the terroristic act on April 12. The shooting caused panic in the subway and concern in the city that an armed criminal was loose.
But the next day, after the NYPD made the decision to put out photographs of James in the media, the defendant was arrested in East Greenwich Village. Cops also searched a van James used, found in Brooklyn, that contained gasoline in a canister.
A number of concerned citizens who recognized James from his photographs helped police arrest him and will share in a $50,000 reward.
During the brief period James was a fugitive, videos surfaced in which he ranted against the wide range of government officials, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, for the way people with mental illness and suffering from homelessness were treated.
Kuntz issued a permanent order of detention that keeps James in federal custody until trial, a decision that defense attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg agreed with. Outside court, Eisner-Grynberg declined to comment, as did federal prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Winik asked Kuntz to declare the case a complex prosecution because of the volume of evidence. But Eisner-Grynberg said such a declaration was premature until the defense had been presented with all of the discovery materials, which were due by July 25, the next time James is to appear in court.
Kuntz also said that all of the time between Friday's court appearance and July 25 was to be excluded from the normal 70-day period in which the government had to bring the case to trial.
Under questioning by the court, James said he was born in the Bronx in 1959 and briefly attended DeWitt Clinton High School. James said he received a GED and also received a number of certificates for having completed courses in various industrial trades.