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Frank James to Plead Guilty to Terrorism in Subway Shooting

Frank James, accused of carrying out the worst attack on the New York subway system in years, is expected to plead guilty to terrorism in connection with an April shooting spree on a train in Brooklyn, reports the New York Times. James’s lawyers said in a letter filed Wednesday in federal court that he would plead guilty to an 11-count indictment, which charged James with 10 counts of terrorist attack for each of the 10 people shot in the assault, as well as with a firearms charge. A judge set a Jan. 3 change-of-plea hearing. On April 12, James unleashed gunfire on an N train during the morning rush hour. No one was killed, but the attack caused uneasiness across the city and set off a 31-hour manhunt that culminated in James’s arrest in Manhattan. The assault seemed to crystallize several New York crises: the vulnerability of the transit system and its riders, gaps in mental health care, and the ability of a suspect to disappear into a city of millions with hundreds of thousands of cameras.

James, 63, faces a possible life sentence. On April 12, James threw two smoke bombs and opened fire on a train car. Images of smoke-filled train cars and subway platforms slick with blood flooded social media. In the ensuing chaos, James escaped, but he left behind an array of belongings on the train — including a gun, ammunition, bank cards, and a key for a U-Haul — and a trail of video surveillance footage. The authorities soon identified James, who appeared to have planned an attack for days and with no clear motive. James had posted combative videos on social media in which he aired grievances about the subway system and other crime issues. He had a history of mental illness as well as records of arrests in New York and New Jersey. For more than a day after the attack, law enforcement combed the city and its surroundings for James. He was arrested in the East Village after several people — including James himself — called the police tip line to report his whereabouts. James has been jailed since his arrest. In November, his lawyers filed a motion seeking to have the trial moved to another district, possibly in Illinois, saying it would be impossible for James to get a fair trial in Brooklyn.

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