Syrian man hailed after claiming to help arrest Brooklyn shooter

Zack Tahhan, who moved to the US from Syria five years ago, says he was among those who spotted the subway gunman.

Syrian man
Zack Tahhan, who says he helped to identify the suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting, leaves a police precinct in New York City [File: Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Praise is pouring in for a Syrian immigrant who is among a number of people claiming to have spotted and reported the man wanted for shooting 10 people on a busy subway train in Brooklyn, New York.

Zack Tahhan told reporters on Wednesday that he was installing security equipment for a shop when he spotted 62-year-old Frank James, whose image had been widely dispersed by local authorities as the man wanted for the attack on Tuesday morning.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is the guy, we need to get him,’” Tahhan told a drove of reporters near the scene after James’s arrest.

“He was walking down the street, I see the police car. I said, ‘Yo, this is the guy,’ and we catch him, thank God,” said Tahhan, who said he lives in New Jersey now, having moved to the US from Syria five years ago.

New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted a video of Tahhan, writing “thank you for your bravery today, Zack”.

“All of New York is grateful,” she said.

The NYPD, who is leading the investigation, did not immediately confirm what role Tahhan played in the capture, with several others also telling local media they had called police on James.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press, quoting two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said James reported himself to police before he was arrested at a fast-food restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village.

The hashtag #ThankYouZack trended on social media following the arrest.

On Twitter, James J Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, wrote “Thanks Zack, for making us proud”.

New York City Councilman Robert Holden said “Thank you, Zack Tathhan (sic)! Great work!”

Authorities charged James with a federal terrorism offence for the attack in which he detonated two smoke grenades and fired at least 33 shots with a 9mm handgun on a packed subway train in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Sunset Park.

Ten people were injured by gunfire while another 13 were wounded in chaotic scenes, which left residents on edge as James went uncaptured for 30 hours.

All of the victims are expected to survive their injuries.

Police said James had travelled from the city of Philadelphia to New York City in a rented van. He left a trail of clues at the scene of the attack, including keys to the rental van and a receipt for a storage unit packed with ammunition in Philadelphia.

He had posted hours of disjointed video rants online which included bigoted remarks about people of various backgrounds, complaints about New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and the conditions of the subway.

He was set to be arraigned on Thursday.

Source: Al Jazeera