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Owner of Philly apartment where alleged Brooklyn subway shooter stored weapons and ammo: ‘You just don’t know’ who you’re renting to

Philadelphia Inquirer logo Philadelphia Inquirer 4/14/2022 Rodrigo Torrejón, The Philadelphia Inquirer
802 Ontario Street, Philadelphia, PA. Frank R James rented a storage unit and apartment in Philadelphia the days before he allegedly shot at people in a Brooklyn subway train. © Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS 802 Ontario Street, Philadelphia, PA. Frank R James rented a storage unit and apartment in Philadelphia the days before he allegedly shot at people in a Brooklyn subway train.

In the days before Tuesday’s Brooklyn shooting rampage that left 10 people shot and 19 others injured, the alleged shooter traveled back and forth between New York City and a Philadelphia apartment and storage unit, where he had a cache of weapons and ammunition, court records show.

Frank James, 62, the man accused of firing 33 shots in a subway train, had rented both a storage unit and a van that he used to travel to New York from a Philadelphia U-Haul facility, as well as an apartment in the city, the criminal complaint shows.

The owner of the apartment James rented in Philadelphia told The Inquirer on Thursday that she had no issues with tenants previously, she’s now worried about the next person who might book a stay.

“I have to think twice about it,” said Janet McDaniel. “It’s really been good with no real issues. But this time it’s a little bit different. You don’t know who. You just don’t know.”

A discarded receipt found on the subway platform where the shooting occurred led law enforcement officials to the storage facility James rented in Philadelphia. Inside the unit, investigators found 9mm ammunition, a threaded 9mm pistol barrel that allows for a silencer or suppressor to be attached, targets, and .223 caliber ammunition that is used with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

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Agents also searched the apartment on the 1800 block of Ontario Street in the Nicetown-Tioga section of the city he had rented. The complaint says agents found more weapons and ammunition — an empty magazine for a Glock handgun, a stun gun, a high-capacity rifle magazine, and a blue smoke canister.

The amount of ammunition found, particularly ammunition used with an AR-15, pointed to James having access to additional firearms and led to a federal agent requesting a no-knock warrant because of the danger James potentially posed.


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From March 28 to April 10, James had taken around 21 Lyft rides to and from theapartment he had rented. According to the management company, James had rented the apartment for 15 days, starting March 28 and ending April 12, the day of the shooting.

According to the complaint, James had taken a Lyft ride to the storage unit at 6:17 p.m. Monday.

Since 2016, McDaniel has ownedthe apartment building where James rented the first floor and basement units through the Evolve app, she said. James was paying $80 a night for the rental.

McDaniel said she and James only had one real conversation during his stay, when he called to let her know that the cable was not working, but he wasn’t present when she went to the unit to fix it.

On Tuesday night, just hours after the shooting, the FBI called McDaniel to questions her about James, she said. McDaniel gave the FBI entry codes to access the building.

On Wednesday morning, the second floor tenant called McDaniel to let her know that a SWAT team had set up outside, ready to breach the apartment.

In addition to the weapons found at the storage locker and the Ontario Street apartment, the New York Police Department recovered a semiautomatic handgun at the scene of the shooting, as well as three extended magazines, a hatchet, fireworks, and gasoline. At a Wednesday afternoon briefing, John Devito, the ATF special agent in charge of the New York field division, said that the gun James allegedly used in the shooting was 16 years old and James had purchased it legally in Ohio in 2011.

Despite some reports, the FBI had not been investigating James prior to the shooting, said Michael J. Driscoll, the assistant director in charge of the F.B.I.’s New York office. James had ties to Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and had three arrests in New Jersey for charges including trespassing, larceny, and disorderly conduct, officials said Wednesday.

The FBI Philadelphia field office did not immediately respond to an email inquiry.

James was arrested in the East Village section of New York on Wednesday afternoon, after a Crimestoppers tip notified police.

It was later reported that James himself had called police to turn himself in. He was taken into custody without incident.

©2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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