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A person of interest in the Brooklyn, New York, subway shooting has Wisconsin ties

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Frank James, 62, has been identified as a person of interest in the New York subway shooting.

Frank James, 62, has been identified as a person of interest in the New York subway shooting.

The New York Police Department has identified Frank R. James, who is linked to an address in Milwaukee, as a person of interest in the New York subway shooting that left at least 29 injured Tuesday.

James, 62, has ties to both Wisconsin and Philadelphia, authorities said.

“We are endeavoring to locate him to determine his connection to this subway shooting, if any,” New York Police Chief of Detectives James Essig said at a news conference.

Police said he was not in custody as of late Tuesday night and no charges had been filed.

A Milwaukee police spokesman said the department was not currently involved in the investigation and had no information. A Milwaukee police official earlier had referred questions to the local FBI office. When contacted by a reporter, the FBI Milwaukee office referred questions to the New York City Police Department.

James does not appear to have any criminal record in Wisconsin, according to a Tuesday night search of state and Milwaukee municipal court records.

In a video dated March 20, 2022, and posted to social media, a man who appeared to be James is seen driving, saying he was on his way to Philadelphia and leaving Wisconsin.

“As I leave the state of Wisconsin, about to be back in the state of Illinois, all I can say is good riddance and I will never be back again alive …” the man said in the video.

He described it as the “first leg” of his trip.

He ranted about a variety of subjects, including Ukraine, nuclear war, race and traffic in Chicago.

At his last known Milwaukee address in the city’s Harambee neighborhood, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter knocked on the door. There was no answer.

A neighbor, who lived in an adjacent apartment at the address, told the New York Times that James was “gruff and standoffish.”

Keilah Miller, 32, said James moved into the unit less than a year ago. Miller said she heard James yelling on the phone several times and that they had an altercation when she accidentally left her key in her lock.

She said he would walk down the street just about every morning but never say hello.

“He is a really weird neighbor,” Miller said.

Police say James rented a U-Haul van in Philadelphia. Keys to that van were found inside the subway train.

The shooter in the incident is accused of setting off smoke bombs and opening fire on commuters on the New York subway in Brooklyn.

At least 10 people were shot and at least 19 others were taken to hospitals for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to shrapnel wounds.

Authorities say the gunman fired 33 times with a Glock 17 9mm semi-handgun, which was found in the subway. Searching the subway car, investigators also found two non-detonated smoke grenades, a hatchet, gasoline, fireworks and keys to a U-Haul van.

The key led police to James. Authorities found the van in Brooklyn and were searching it.

A man named Frank James from Milwaukee purchased the brands of fireworks visible in the photos from the scene, said William Weimer, vice president and general counsel at Youngstown-based Phantom Fireworks.

James spent $93 at a Phantom Fireworks showroom in Caledonia, outside of Racine, in June 2021, according to a receipt Weimer provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

He bought “canister smoke,” which produces white smoke, among other items. Earlier Tuesday, photos of the fireworks products found at the scene had circulated on social media and made their way to Weimer.

“We identified those four items as something that could have come from Phantom,” Weimer said of the photo.

They searched records from 2022 for a purchase containing all four products but did not find one, he said. Once police identified James as a person of interest, Phantom searched by his name and located the Wisconsin purchase made last year. The information was given to law enforcement, Weimer said.

New York City police commissioner Keechant Sewell noted investigators were pouring over social media posts appearing to come from James where he mentioned homelessness and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. She said the mayor’s security detail would be tightened out of an “abundance of caution.”

New York police are asking anyone with information to call 1-800-577-TIPS .

Journal Sentinel reporters Bill Glauber, Cary Spivak and Mary Spicuzza, and USA TODAY contributed to this article.

Contact Drake Bentley at (414) 391-5647 or DBentley1@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DrakeBentleyMJS.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Frank R. James person of interest in subway shooting has Milwaukee tie

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