Accused Brooklyn subway shooter Frank James has made at least one new friend since his arrest for spraying 33 bullets on a crowded New York City train: Disgraced R&B superstar R. Kelly.
Three sources told the Daily News about the behind bars bromance between the two men held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, where Kelly is awaiting sentencing for sex trafficking and James is awaiting trial for the April 12 mass shooting on the N train.
“Both do get along. They actually sit together and eat together,” said one jailhouse source.
They talk about TV shows. They go out to rec together. They’re buds,” said another source familiar with the situation.
The two men are in a unit at the troubled lockup that also houses government cooperators, since both are high-risk inmates, sources confirmed. James has a bunkmate, while Kelly has his own room, a source said.
Despite their uncertain futures — both could spend the rest of their lives in prison — James and Kelly manage to find some solace behind bars.
In his few weeks in the jail, James has not been much of a complainer and drinks copious amounts of coffee, said one of the sources. Kelly, meanwhile, uses his music from him to lift spirits, numerous sources said.
In one surreal example, the self-proclaimed “King of R&B” silenced a crowd in the visiting room at MDC when he stood in his jail fatigues and gave an a cappella performance of his chart-topping hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” a source present for the impromptu concert recalled. Even MDC correction officers watched in stunned silence.
The performance wasn’t unusual. The singer — convicted of sex trafficking girls and young women at his concerts — often sings as if he’s back on tour, bringing joy to everyone in earshot, the source added.
Kelly also sings alone in his cell, loudly enough for other inmates to hear, according to a source.
“He does live performances and all,” a source said.
“Mr. Kelly is not in control of who he is married to,” said Jennifer Bonjean, Kelly’s lawyer. “A friend is someone you voluntarily hang out with.”
James’ lawyer declined to comment on the friendship between James and Kelly.
James, indicted on federal terrorism charges last Friday, is not the first high-profile friend that Kelly has made at MDC.
The News exclusively reported on Kelly’s bond with his one-time cellmate Brendan Hunt, a Queens man convicted last year of threatening to murder members of Congress.
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Kelly put on musical performances for Hunt, who memorialized the experience of living with Kelly in a bizarre comic strip that featured the two doing yoga together. Hunt was sentenced to 19 months in prison.
James was arrested for the April 12 shooting aboard a Manhattan-bound N train. He allegedly set off a smoke canister and fired nearly three dozen shots at straphangers on the crowded morning train as it approached the 36th Street station — just a 12 minute walk from the MDC. No one was killed.
The day after the shooting, James was arrested in the East Village following a bizarre jaunt around lower Manhattan that included stops at the hip Chinatown restaurant Dimes and Katz’s Deli, where he ordered a $30 Rueben, according to a source with knowledge of the visit .
Katz’s Deli owner Jake Dell denied that James visited the sandwich shop.
“Unless he disguised himself in some crazy way, he wasn’t inside the store,” said Dell, who watched hours of footage of Katz’s from the day of James’ alleged visit.
Kelly was convicted after a six-week trial in Brooklyn Federal Court in 2021 of running a decades-long sex abuse operation. Kelly targeted boys, young men, girls and young women, according to witness testimony.
He faces life in prison when he is sentenced June 15.