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Accused subway shooter pleads guilty to terrorism charges

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The man accused of shooting 10 people on a crowded N train in April 2022 has pleaded guilty to all 11 charges against him.

Frank Robert James, 63, admitted in a Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday afternoon that he got on the rush hour train and opened fire with the intent to seriously harm people. He said he didn’t want to kill anyone.

If James had been found guilty at trial, he would have faced a possible life sentence. In a letter sent to the court, prosecutors recommended a sentence of about 32 to 37 years if James accepted responsibility or life in prison if he did not. His defense attorneys asked for a shorter sentence. The judge will make the final call. James said he will express his remorse when he is sentenced. That court date has not been set.

Prosecutors said James blended into the rush of morning commuters on April 12 by wearing construction gear and a mask. He set off a smoke bomb, then fired dozens of shots, hitting 10 people and sending 20 others to the hospital for injuries sustained during the chaos that followed.

Videos from the platform showed straphangers running off a smoke-filled train and gunshot victims lying on the ground beside puddles of blood. No one died, but the incident heightened fears of the subway system as the city struggled to get passengers back on public transit following a major drop in ridership and spike in crime during the pandemic.

James told Judge William F. Kuntz that he understood the potential consequences of pleading guilty, including the loss of his right to appeal. His defense attorney said there was no viable path to defend him further in court.

Dressed in khaki pants and a matching short-sleeved button-down shirt, James looked intently at the judge at some moments, other times looking down, resting his chin in his palm or balling up his hands on the table in front of him. He rubbed his eyes as the judge read the long list of counts against him.

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