The suspect in Tuesday’s chaotic Brooklyn subway shooting was arrested Wednesday following a series of bizarre and confusing events involving dozens of law enforcement officers, concerned bystanders and the suspect himself.
Authorities have yet to say who will receive the promised reward of $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of Frank R. James – if any.
In the hours following James’ arrest, social media was flooded with videos of several citizens who said they helped police find and arrest the suspect. In one, Zack Tahhan took the microphone from a local news station and breathlessly explained how he and other bystanders reported to the police when they spotted James.
“Thank God I’m doing my best,” Tahhan said in another interview with USA TODAY. He said he used his phone to search for photos of the suspect to confirm that a man he saw on the street was the same person.
An NYPD spokeswoman said police could not confirm the men’s accounts at this time due to the active investigation.
As Tahhan’s story gained national attention, reports also emerged that James had participated in his own arrest. James had called himself into the city’s “crime stoppers” line and reported his location, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
Mayor Eric Adams celebrated the arrest on Wednesdaytweeting that it was the result of the efforts of “NYPD, federal and state partners, first responders and everyday New Yorkers.”
Here’s what to know about Frank James’ arrest:
What happened before Frank James was arrested?
Reports from police and bystanders show that James initiated the events leading up to his capture with a plea to authorities claiming to reveal his current location. But witnesses say they helped police locate James after he left that place.
About 30 hours after the subway carnage, James called the city’s “crime stoppers” line to report he was at a McDonald’s in Manhattan, law enforcement officials said.
When officers arrived at the scene, he was not at the restaurant, NYPD Department Chief Kenneth Corey said.
“They start driving around the neighborhood looking for him. They see him on the corner of St. Mark’s (Place) and First (Avenue), and they take him into custody,” Corey said.
But witnesses say they helped police by alerting officers when they saw a man they were convinced was James.
Zach Tahhan said he was fixing a camera system at the Saifee Hardware and Garden Store, a few doors down from McDonald’s, when he noticed someone who appeared to be James walking by.
A store manager, Frank Puebla, was outside with him. They looked at each other, knew it was the man whose face had been glued to the news and online.
“My eyes went right to his face and I noticed that was the guy,” Puebla said in an interview inside the store.
They saw a police car nearby and flagged officers. “Yo! It’s the guy! Tahhan said he yelled at the police. The couple watched in disbelief as officers arrested James.
“It’s a lucky day,” said Tahhan, an entrepreneur from Lebanon, with a smile. “I’m fasting and it’s Ramadan.”
Store owner Mike Taherany said he was proud of the pair.
“People should know that Muslims are good people,” said Tehrany, a Madagascar-born Muslim. “So much for profiling.”
Police did not say where James was between the time of the attack and his capture.
How did James react to the arrest?
Witnesses say James was overpowered when police arrested him.
Will Shellhorn was walking up First Avenue near St. Marks Place a little after noon when he saw James being arrested.
“I saw a policeman approaching him,” he said. “Then three cars came, and I saw police approaching him, but he seemed totally nonchalant. He didn’t resist or fight.
Shellhorn, 20, a student at Parsons School of Design, said he was shocked the suspect was arrested so close to his flat. “It all happened so fast.”
Erick Rameriz, who works at nearby East Village Pizza, said he saw many police cars outside the store and then crowds formed. “I didn’t know what was going on, but I saw someone come out,” he told USA TODAY in a phone interview. “We all talked about it and we had no idea at first it was him.” He said it was “weird” to know that James had been found so close after his search. “I’m just happy to know it’s over,” he said.
Contributors: Ryan W. Miller, Kevin Johnson