Police defuse car bomb in Times Square
Police found and defused a car bomb inside a suspicious vehicle in New York's Times Square. "We avoided what could have been a very deadly event,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Police found and defused a car bomb inside a suspicious sport utility vehicle found parked in New York’s bustling Times Square area, thwarting a terrorist threat that had forced police to completely evacuate the area Saturday night.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a press conference in the wee hours of Sunday morning, saying, "We are very lucky. Thanks to alert New Yorkers and professional police officers, we avoided what could have been a very deadly event.”
The bomb, planted in a Nissan Pathfinder SUV on West 45th Street and Broadway, was found to be made of propane gasoline and fireworks. Bloomberg described the homemade bomb as “amateurish”. The materials were removed by the New York Police Department bomb squad, who first deployed robotic devices to act as decoys in the event a bomb went off.
New York State Governor David Paterson called the attempted bombing “an act of terrorism” and called for the pursuit and capture of the culprits. One police officer claimed to have seen a man running from the vehicle.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her office had no information indicating that the car bomb was more than an isolated incident. "Nonetheless, we are alerting state and local law enforcement authorities, and others to stay on their toes," she said on ABC television.
Napolitano also told CNN that fingerprints had been lifted from the vehicle by forensics specialists and that authorities were processing "a lot" of potential evidence of the thwarted attack.
The suspicious SUV
Bloomberg explained that a T-shirt street vendor was responsible for tipping off the police to an “unoccupied suspicious vehicle” that had smoke coming from vents near the back seat. The vendor alerted a police officer on horseback.
"We do not know who drove the car," Bloomberg said. "We have no idea who did this or why." The car had Connecticut license plates that did not match the vehicle.
Bloomberg said authorities had spoken to the man who owned the vehicle's license plates. The man said the plates belonged to a truck that he had sent to a junk yard, and Bloomberg said police were now attempting to speak to the junk yard owner.
Raymond Kelly, the New York police commissioner, said the vehicle had tinted windows and was seen on police surveillance cameras travelling west along 45th street. Police were now attempting to examine footage from other cameras in the area, he added.
Many people have already drawn parallels to the events of September 11, 2001. Philippe Bolopion, France 24 correspondent in New York, said, “A lot of New Yorkers will learn of all this tomorrow morning when they wake up. It will most likely bring up very painful memories.”