Police investigating the Brooklyn subway shooting are searching for a suspect who rented a U-Haul van from Philadelphia — which they were able to quickly find thanks to an observant resident.
The man, who did not wish to be identified, told NBC New York he was having a conversation with the superintendent for his Gravesend building when the super mentioned a U-Haul van that was blocking the building's driveway since Monday, possibly in the afternoon.
The super said the van had Arizona plates, and another tenant saw a man exit the van after parking it there the day prior. That's when the man connected the dots and realized that it could be the U-Haul van police said they were searching for — especially given its proximity to the N and R line, which is only a few blocks away.
The man told News 4 he urged the super to call the police, but he was hesitant to do so, leaving the Gravesend resident to do it himself.
Police now have that major piece of evidence, thanks to the resident's 911 call. Investigators were seen removing the van late Tuesday night, in order to inspect it even further in an effort to get any clues that could lead them to the alleged gunman.
Authorities identified a 62-year-old man — initially as a person of interest and later as a suspect — who police said rented a U-Haul van connected to the attack and suspect, but NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said they weren't yet sure whether he had any link to the subway attack itself.
A key to the van was found at the scene of the shooting at the Sunset Park subway station. The vehicle was later searched and cleared, senior law enforcement sources said, as cops removed a table, chairs and memory foam pillows from inside.
The man who rented the van — Frank James — has ties to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to police. He was said to have past criminal records in those states, as well as ties to New York, law enforcement sources said.
Officials said authorities zeroed in on James after the credit card used to rent the van, as well as a key to the van, were found at the shooting scene.
It appeared that James drove the rental van to New York from Pennsylvania on Monday, based on license plate reader data and other info, sources said. Investigators obtained video from 5 a.m. Tuesday near where the van was found parked, appearing to show a man matching the description of the subway attacker emerging from the van.