Frank James entered the plea in federal court in Brooklyn, where US, District Judge William F. Kuntz began the proceedings by asking James, “How are you doing today?”
“Pretty good,” replied James.
Asked about his educational background, James said he attended public schools in the Bronx before earning a GED. He said he also attended some trade schools.
James, 62, is facing charges of committing a terrorist attack or other violence against a mass transportation system and discharging a firearm during a violent crime. Both counts carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The defendant was arrested April 13, about 30 hours after authorities say he drove from Philadelphia and unleashed smoke bombs and dozens of bullets in a train full of morning commuters as it approached a Brooklyn station. The shooting victims ranged in age from 16 to 60; all survived.
Authorities said James’ bank card, cellphone and a key to a van he had rented were found at the shooting scene. Police also said they found the 9mm Glock semiautomatic handgun used in the shooting and traced it to James.
Defense attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg had cautioned at the time of James’ arrest not to rush to judgment and noted that James alerted police to his whereabouts. He was arrested in Manhattan’s East Village after he called a tip line saying he was at a fast food restaurant in that section of the city.
Eisner-Grynberg declined comment outside court Friday.
A motive for the attack is unclear. In numerous rants he posted on YouTube, James, who is Black, made bigoted remarks about people of various backgrounds and railed against New York Mayor Eric Adams and complained about mental health care he received in the city years ago.
James, who’s being held without bail, is due back in court July 25.
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