“He’s been alone all his life and I haven’t had that much contact with him,” she said. “He goes from town to town.”
One of the last of those cities was Milwaukee, where it was unclear what Mr. James did for his job. He described himself as a driver, including for the delivery app Instacart. (Instacart did not respond to several requests for comment.)
He seems to have been more focused on his YouTube account, where the videos he posted often degenerated into outbursts of homophobia, misogyny and abusive comments about black people, Hispanic people, and white people. Mr. James, who is black, focused much of his hatred on black people, whom he often blamed on the way they were treated in the United States.
He expressed his admiration for black pioneers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama, but unleashed vitriol on other black people, including Daunte Wright, who was murdered by a Minnesota police officer last year, and other young black men shot by police. Blaming them for their own deaths, he said, “You play stupid games, you win a stupid prize”, adding that they deserved to be shot.
Current and former neighbors in Wisconsin described him as surly, aloof, and prone to losing patience. Keilah Miller, who lived in an adjacent building next door to Mr. James in Milwaukee, said he was blown up at her after she left her key in her lock and yelled, “Never do that again!” She said he had few visitors.
A former neighbor, Mike Lopez, 38, said he never spoke to Mr. James, but often saw him pushing a small cart of groceries or other belongings.
“I didn’t see him as a threat or anything,” said Mr. Lopez before the arrest. “I mean, I don’t see him as capable. He can’t move like that, man. He wasn’t fast.” Mr. James’s sister also mentioned his physical problems, saying he had a bad back and couldn’t go up and down stairs easily.