The idea may have been to obscure the vision of his targets, but the shooter seems to have obscured his own vision in the process.
The smoke bombs that preceded Tuesdays mass shooting in a New York City subway car may have actually saved lives by obscuring the gunmans targets, a senior NYPD official told ishonest.
The 47-second clipwhich had been public until the permissions on it were changed at some point on Wednesdaybecomes more viscerally disturbing than the prolonged rants and ravings of James other online videos when you consider that his index finger is the very digit that police say he used this week to pull a trigger 33 times, shooting 10 people trapped with him on an N train.
The clip turns even creepier toward the end, when James begins talking to himself, as Tuesdays gunman did just prior to the shooting. Only bits of his muttering in the video are intelligible. He says what sounds like, "You get shot, get shot, it sure looks like that's what's going on....appreciate it."
James named the clip Good Old Days, which is hard to figure as the video looks relatively contemporary. But he would be right in suggesting that recent days are definitely better than the Bad Old Days, the chaotic, crime-ridden 1990s when James was repeatedly arrested in the subway for theft of services. A police investigator says that James was one of the citys token suckers who would stuff paper into a token slot to prevent the metal discs from dropping down into the turnstile. They would then suck out the token and sell it. Cops would seek to deter them by spraying mace on the slots.
James was also arrested for various other relatively minor crimes, above ground and below. But he had never been charged with a felony when he moved to Ohio. And, though by his own accounting he suffered PTSD from various emotional hardships, no records have surfaced indicating that he was ever declared mentally incompetent or committed to a psychiatric institution.
In 2011, he was therefore able to pass a background check and purchase a Glock automatic from an online gun dealer, delivered through a Columbus pawn shop. He was one of more than 450,000 people who underwent a background check to purchase a gun in Ohio that year. He seems to have kept possession of the pistol as he moved to Milwaukee and the Philadelphia area.
That meant he had been a gun owner for nine years when he posted the pointing index finger video. He says in other videos that he can understand why a motherfucker would go out there and just start shooting people. But he also says he is afraid of prison. One police investigator suggests that fear may have kept him from venturing beyond fantasy.
But, as alleged in a federal criminal complaint that could now lead to him serving a life term, whatever was holding him back fell away on Tuesday. The Glock he had purchased 11 years before was found at the scene aligned with two full extended magazines with at least 66 more rounds. Police believe many more people may have been shot had the gun not jammed.
Still, the smoke and the fact the shooting was in the train system that has been a terror target in the past and that so many New Yorkers depend on touched the citys 9/11 nerve. It is worth noting that in yet another video, James termed 9/11 the most beautiful day, probably in the history of this fucking world.
By the end of a panicked morning, word came that nobody had died in the subway shooting, though 10 people shot in one train car is still a very big thing.
But a different kind of math seems to apply when gunfire erupts elsewhere in the city, and particularly in its rougher neighborhoods.
Apart from the 10 people shot in the subway shooting, 15 people were shot in a six-hour period on Tuesday in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Two were killed, a 23 year-old woman and a 22-year-old man.
Mayor Eric Adamswho is quarantined after testing positive for COVIDtook an exultant virtual bow when Frank James was captured on Wednesday. But, to his credit, Adams did not let him forget the greater, largely overlooked carnage on Tuesday in a city where the number of shootings has doubled since 2019.
Where are all those who stated Black lives matter? Adams was quoted saying later on Wednesday. Then do an analysis of who was killed or shot last night.
Having demonstrated the difference between a pointed index finger and a pistol, James is scheduled to be arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday morning. His Glock will join the tally of illegal guns seized in the city, which total some 6,000 a year. But ever more guns pour in from out of state each and every day.
Three were cheers when the N train resumed running. But there remains the challenge of how to stop the shootings.