Alleged New York subway attacker's neighbor at Uptown hotel calls him 'mean and scary guy'

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Friday, April 15, 2022
Alleged NYC subway attcker was 'mean and scary guy' former neighbor says
EMBED <>More Videos

Alleged New York subway attacker Frank James' former Chicago neighbor says he was "a mean and scary guy."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A woman who says accused Brooklyn subway shooter Frank James was her neighbor at a residential hotel in Uptown neighborhood characterized him as "a mean and scary guy."

Donna Barney described the interactions she said she had with James years ago at the Aragon Arms Hotel.

READ MORE: Frank R. James, ID'd as New York subway shooting suspect, previously lived in Uptown SRO hotel

"I said 'Hi, neighbor' to him and I got a mean mugging. Aggression. I know plenty a large big man that's not scary. He was scary. He was aggressive. He was mean... he didn't say a word," she said.

James lived in the Aragon Arms Hotel from 2015 until 2017. Barney, who still lives at the hotel, was there for a year before James was evicted.

She said he never showed the Glock pistol authorities say he obtained years before living in Chicago and then used in this week's subway rampage. Barney said that is frightening to know now, because of how she said her neighbors described his conduct in the building.

"He was banging on people's doors; not banging, pounding on people's doors. You know, and he's armed mind you. We know now that he was armed," she said.

The 62-year-old is currently being held without bond in the Brooklyn New York Federal Detention Center. He appeared in court for the first time Thursday.

Prosecutors described the attack on the Brooklyn subway as calculated and entirely pre-mediated.

James is charged with violating a law that prohibits terrorist and other violent attacks against a mass transportation system.

No one was killed in the attack, but 10 people were shot and 19 others injured in the chaos that followed.

"He's one of those horrible people that makes life horrible for everyone around him, and that is not how we are here," said Barney, who speculated that James' disruptions and aggression caused his eviction from the Aragon Arms in 2017.

"I mean, you know, I'm just trying to say this: Frank James is not the face of SROs. And this is a great second chance kind of place for people that really are behind the, you know, down behind the barrel. So you know, that's probably how he got away with it for so long," she said.

After James was evicted in 2017, he moved to another single room occupancy building not far away.

The I-Team learned that James lived in that SRO on Lawrence Avenue until 2018, when he moved to Wisconsin.

State records obtained by the I-Team also show that he obtained a driver's license there in that year.

New federal court records state that James had a "stockpile of weapons" and ammo in a Philadelphia storage unit, including an AR-15.